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Forum finalizes Charting the Course initiative

Report urges DI leaders to keep in mind college athletes’ personal, professional goals

In the culmination of a year of work, the Division I Presidential Forum outlined its vision for improving the student-athlete experience — before, during and after college.

During the 2018 NCAA Convention on Wednesday, the forum approved its Charting the Course report, which presents a series of principles designed to guide leaders toward making decisions that will help align the personal and professional goals of Division I student-athletes.

“This effort is intended to give the day-to-day decision-makers in Division I — both on campus and at the national level — a foundation of values on which to build rules and policies intended to support student-athletes throughout our relationship with them — as potential students, students and alumni,” said forum chair Kay Norton, president of Northern Colorado.

Key elements of the plan include emphasizing the beneficial role athletics plays in student development, informing values-based decisions intended to protect and enhance the collegiate model and identifying best practices to support student-athlete well-being.

The forum members want to accomplish these goals through a series of presidential principles intended to guide both governance groups and campuses in developing and implementing policies, best practices and legislation.

The principles cover a wide range of subjects, including recruiting, the student-athlete experience, health and safety initiatives, and support after college.

For example, forum members believe campus-specific recruiting should not begin before the junior year of high school and prospective student-athletes should have unlimited access to resources to help them in their college selection process. Members also want to be sure prospective student-athletes understand the dangers of early sport specialization and the realistic likelihood of professional sports careers, especially when choosing a school and major.

The forum members also want student-athletes to have a well-rounded collegiate experience, including, if they choose, internship and study-abroad opportunities. Division I passed legislation last year making it easier for student-athletes to pursue such experiences, but the presidents want to see more campuses offer nontraditional programs aimed at encouraging student-athletes to participate.

A series of health and safety recommendations are a critical element of the initiative, including improved support for student-athletes with mental health, cardiac care and concussion issues. Forum members would like to see campuses implement health and safety plans that address the well-being of student-athletes.

The principles will be sent to the appropriate governance and national office groups and member schools for further review, development and implementation as legislation or policies. Broader concepts will help inform the Association’s strategic planning processes.

The forum members also had lengthy conversation about the composition of the Division I Board of Directors, transfer issues and future strategic areas of emphasis. Norton will deliver feedback to the board Thursday.