Student Athletics Making Room for Academics

For quite some time now, athletics and school sporting events have sparked some controversy over the amount of time student athletes are allowed to spend outside of the classroom and away from their academic responsibilities. While athletes risk loosing scholarship priveledges and many must maintain a certain GPA to play, juggling several responsibilities throughout the semester such as athletics, school, and personal lives causes some student athletes to fall behind in their classes fairly shortly into the semester. An Inside Higher Ed article also mentions how some schools now even require student athletes to arrive on campus sooner than other students, so that they can start training activities in their sport.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, also commonly referred to as the NCAA, is currently proposing changes and in works to change legislation and the way that school sports training, practice, and games are scheduled. The changes are directed at Division II schools, and aimed at minimizing the amount of school a student athlete misses, particularly at the beginning of the semesters, when it is easy for a student to fall behind. One of the approved proposals includes a mandate for student athletes in which their training, practice, or a game can not take place until September 7 or the fourth class day, whichever comes sooner. Supporters of this mandate feel this should give students time to begin to learn their campus, their classes, and their schedule.

Other proposals include sending students that will be playing in sports in the fall semesters to be required to attend summer school before they start their semester, as a way to make sure academic requirements are met. This proposal is aimed at Division I schools, and is still in debate, with a final vote scheduled for some time in April. And although Division II schools generally tend to have less demanding athletic commitments than other division schools, members of the board are still trying to keep students at school more. Some Division II schools have already shortened their athletic seasons by reducing the amount of games played in the season or eliminating preseason activities such as tournaments, training, and scrimmages.

The proposals come around the NCAA seeing repeat negative trends and infractions against institutions in the last couple of years. According to the article, the most common major violation found by the NCAA in recent years, is failure of a coach or institution to monitor their sports program correctly. Other violations commonly come from providing students with extra benefits, fraud, and not addressing prior violations. The vice president of the NCAA shared that many of the violations seen each year, which is estimated at about 4,000, involve athletic officials that are either working with these athletes for and with money, or that they are leaving violations alone and not reporting them.

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