With major reforms continuing rapidly in college athletics, key rule changes are focused on improving the student-athlete experience. The NCAA is committed to providing a fair, inclusive and fulfilling environment.

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Getting the Most Out of the Full College Experience

In 2017, Division I increased flexibility in eligibility rules to allow student-athletes to more easily pursue internships and study abroad opportunities. Additionally, the Division I autonomy conferences – the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern – approved several measures to give student-athletes more discretionary time to better balance their athletics and academic commitments. The remaining schools and conferences in Division I can decide individually whether to adopt the changes. Also in 2017, Division II voted to provide student-athletes additional time off when they’re not competing in their season, and Division III voted to allow student-athletes in track and field and swimming to choose their own day off each week.

More Spending Money

The autonomy conferences – the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern – redefined athletics scholarships to include the federally reported full cost of attendance. That means student-athletes can receive additional funds to cover the difference between what their athletics scholarship traditionally covered and the additional expenses of attending school. The value of those benefits can differ from campus to campus, and all Division I schools can choose to participate.

Staying In the Game

Guaranteeing scholarships regardless of athletic performance or injury offers peace of mind. In 2015, the Division I autonomy conferences did just that – ensuring scholarships no longer could be revoked based on athletic performance. While scholarships can be revoked for other reasons, such as behavioral issues, athletic performance is no longer one of those criteria at the 65 autonomy schools. This approach has also been adopted by several conferences outside the autonomy group.

Student-Athlete Voice

Student-athletes have a stronger voice in the decision-making processes of Divisions I and II. In Division I, three athletes from each of the five autonomy conferences vote as part of the governance structure, in addition to other athlete representation on the Division I Board of Directors, Council and Council subcommittees. In Division II, two members of the national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee have a vote on the Management Council, and the SAAC also has a vote at the NCAA Convention. Division III athletes have similar Management Council voting power.

Making Informed Decisions

College athletes now can make more informed decisions about going pro. At the 2016 NCAA Convention, Division I changed the rules and deadlines for students exploring entering the NBA draft. Also, high school baseball players are allowed to retain an agent for professional league contract negotiations. The relationship must be severed if the student decides to enroll in college and play baseball in Division I.

Fostering Inclusive Environments

The NCAA is committed to creating equal opportunities and inclusive environments for college athletes. In April 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination – and also safeguard the dignity of everyone involved.

More Opportunities

The NCAA creates opportunities for female student-athletes through the Emerging Sports for Women program. Since 1994, the number of female student-athletes has increased 23 percent to more than 209,000 participants. In 2015, beach volleyball was approved for championship status, allowing the sport to become the 90th NCAA championship.