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Reflecting on the DI Council experience

By Blake James

This spring I will complete my two-year term as chair of the Division I Council. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career, despite the challenges and the time commitment. 

Blake James at the 2018 NCAA Convention. NCAA Photos archive

I am most proud of our efforts to improve the student-athlete experience. Student-athletes now have the ability to transfer schools and receive a scholarship at another school without having to seek permission from their current school. The change already has provided additional flexibility in the often-difficult transfer process.  

The Council also voted to allow football players to compete in up to four games in a season without losing a season of eligibility, a change that promotes fairness and supports their health and well-being. Starters are less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries, and first-year student-athletes are more likely to be engaged with the team as a result of this policy change. 

We also began to align the recruiting timeline for student-athletes more closely with the admissions timeline for the general student body by changing the dates for both official and unofficial visits in most sports. Student-athletes were a strong proponent of these changes, as well as for pending legislation changing the rules regarding recruiting phone calls and other types of communication. 

I hope the Council continues to work collaboratively to modernize the rules governing college sports to create a better experience for all student-athletes. The collegiate model continues to face challenges, yet we always must support student-athletes as they work to achieve success in and out of competition. 

Student-athletes make college athletics what it is, and I hope we continue to improve their experience on our campuses and at our championships, ultimately preparing them to achieve great things after college. 

Blake James is outgoing chair of the Division I Council and athletics director at Miami (Florida). 

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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