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Watching the Clock

Myriad ways of reducing hours students spend on sports are under consideration, but time will tell which ones are adopted

Finding balance between coursework and athletics will always be a challenge, but where is the line that separates a challenge from a burden? Even at the Division I level, where student-athletes know their seasons and practices will be demanding, has the time come for the NCAA to do more to help student-athletes balance athletics, academics and other pursuits?

Several groups within the NCAA, led by principles outlined this summer at the Division I Strategic Summit, are examining the demands athletics places on students’ time. Three autonomy proposals will be voted on at the 2016 NCAA Convention, while the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics has forwarded to the NCAA Division I Council two proposals related to life balance.

“When does a student-athlete get to be a student and do all the things students do?” asks Committee on Academics member Kurt Zorn, a faculty athletics representative at Indiana University, Bloomington, and chair of that committee’s Subcommittee on Student-Athlete Academics. “Some of these issues can be addressed fairly quickly. They’re no-brainers.”

Meanwhile, the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is awaiting results of a survey of their peers. The students are being asked for their opinions about issues such as providing an additional day off from athletic activity and reducing the number of midweek nonconference games. And the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee mulled over the issue throughout 2015; the Council will ultimately consider whether that committee’s recommendations will be introduced into the 2016-17 legislative cycle.

“We want to look sport by sport, in season and out of season,” says Bob Scalise, chair of the Student-Athlete Experience Committee and athletics director at Harvard University. “Where are things being asked of athletes that are unreasonable?”

While several Division I committees are studying how to help student-athletes get a more balanced college experience, some ideas have already been formally introduced:

Days off

THE PROPOSAL: Student-athletes would be allowed one day off each week during their playing season that cannot be used for team travel. This rule would not apply to the postseason, including conference and NCAA championships.

WHO IS WORKING ON IT: The Big Ten put forward this change as an autonomy proposal. After a proposal is adopted by the autonomy group, other Division I schools can consider whether to use that rule on their campuses.

WHERE IT STANDS: Autonomy conferences will vote on this proposal in January at the 2016 NCAA Convention.

Three weeks of downtime

THE PROPOSAL: Athletics-related activities would be prohibited for three weeks following the end of the team’s postseason.

WHO IS WORKING ON IT: The Pac-12 put forward this change as an autonomy proposal. After a proposal is adopted by the autonomy group, other Division I schools can consider whether to use that rule on their campuses.

WHERE IT STANDS: Autonomy conferences will vote on this proposal in January at the 2016 NCAA Convention.

Nights off

THE PROPOSAL: Athletics-related activities would be prohibited between
9 p.m. and 6 a.m. This proposal includes a few exceptions, including competition that begins before 9 p.m. and concludes after 9 p.m.

WHO IS WORKING ON IT: The Pac-12 put forward this change as an autonomy proposal. After a proposal is adopted by the autonomy group, other Division I schools can consider whether to use that rule on their campuses.

WHERE IT STANDS: Autonomy conferences will vote on this proposal in January at the 2016 NCAA Convention.

Making progress

THE PROPOSAL: Students who pursue cooperative educational work experiences such as internships, practicums, student teaching and studying abroad could get some relief from NCAA progress-toward-degree requirements.

WHO IS WORKING ON IT: NCAA Division I Committee on Academics

WHERE IT STANDS: The NCAA Division I Council will now
consider whether to introduce the proposal into the
2016-17 legislative process.

Minor adjustment

THE PROPOSAL: Student-athletes pursuing minors could apply those credits toward NCAA credit-hour requirements.

WHO IS WORKING ON IT: NCAA Division I Committee on Academics

WHERE IT STANDS: The NCAA Division I Council will now consider whether to introduce the proposal into the 2016-17 legislative process.

 

About Champion

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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