By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The Division I Board of Directors on Thursday sponsored legislation that would change academic requirements for Division I football and men’s basketball student-athletes.
The legislation was formed from recommendations made by two groups that studied how to improve the academic performance of student-athletes in the NCAA’s marquee sports.
The presidents indicated that they are ready to hear membership opinion on these issues and ultimately vote on them.
The Basketball Academic Enhancement Group recommended the creation of a summer academic preparation and college acclimatization model that would:
The summer school model was not entered into legislation in the 2009-10 cycle because group members wanted to work with critics who judged it too expensive and an infringement on institutional autonomy. Some believed the plan was simply a way for coaches to get more practice time. The group spent the past year educating the membership, including addressing the Division I delegates at the 2010 NCAA Convention, addressing the concerns and reiterating that the recommendations were based on data.
The membership now will have the opportunity to voice a collective opinion on the proposal through the legislative process.
A proposal that originated with the working group and would have eliminated a contest in men’s basketball was defeated by the membership last year. Other proposals that came from the group were adopted, including a limit on the number of physical education courses men’s basketball student-athletes from two-year colleges can transfer, a change in counter status for men’s basketball student-athletes after a coaching change and a requirement that men’s basketball game and practice schedules be approved by a faculty athletics representative before each academic term to ensure academic engagement.
The Football Academic Working Group concluded two years of work and presented its proposals to the Board in April. While the Board expressed strong support for the group’s work, the presidents directed the chair to work out some final details with other NCAA governance groups and return with a final recommendation to be formalized into legislation.
After meeting with the Committee on Academic Performance and the Academic Cabinet this summer, chair Joe Castiglione presented final recommendations to the Board, including a requirement that all football players earn nine credit hours (eight hours for quarter schools) in the fall term to be eligible for the entire football season the following year.
The plan calls for football student-athletes who don’t meet the credit-hour requirement to be suspended for four games the following fall, with the opportunity to mitigate the penalty to two games if he earns 27 credit hours (40 hours for quarter schools) by the end of the following summer session.
The proposals are aimed at getting football student-athletes on track to graduate in four and a half years and are based on data that show eligibility is the bigger problem for football student-athletes. The danger points for dropping out are after exhausting eligibility (for Football Bowl Subdivision) and after the first year of eligibility (for Football Championship Subdivision).
The Presidential Advisory Group, composed of presidents from Football Championship Subdivision conferences not holding seats on the Board, sponsored the football proposals for that subdivision.
In April, the Board sent a strong message that it supported the plan, indicating it wanted to avoid with the football proposals the lengthy legislative process that has held up the basketball proposal.
Both recommendations will enter the 2010 legislative cycle, with the Division I Legislative Council casting initial votes on the legislation in January.