Power Five Conferences Agree to Lessen Time Demands on Athletes

July 8, 2016

The commissioners of the five wealthiest National Collegiate Athletic Association conferences announced Thursday that they had agreed on a new proposal that would lessen time demands on college athletes. The so-called Power Five conferences -- the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the Southeastern Conference -- were set to vote on similar rule changes at the NCAA's annual meeting in January, but the proposals were tabled, frustrating many of the athletes in attendance.

The new proposal is more expansive than what was discussed earlier this year. Once adopted, travel days will no longer be counted as days off; coaches must provide 14 additional days off, either during or outside the season; coaches must allow for an 8-hour block of free time at any time between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.; and there must be at least seven days of recovery time during the postseason.

The results of a national survey of 30,000 Division I athletes, released by the NCAA in January, found that many athletes want to spend less time on athletics. More than 40 percent of football and basketball players said they wanted an additional day off per week beyond the one they have now, and most athletes indicated they would appreciate two weeks off at the end of a season.

According to data also released by the NCAA in January, as part of its ongoing GOALS study, football players in the Football Bowl Subdivision -- the association’s most competitive level -- report spending 42 hours per week on their sport. Two-thirds of Division I athletes reported spending as much or more time on athletics during the off-season as during the season. Nearly one in three FBS football players said their sport prevented them from enrolling in a course they wanted to take.

Soccer players, swimmers and divers reported spending the least amount of time on their sports, though at 29 hours, even they still surpassed the amount of required athletic activity allowed by the NCAA. Subsequent NCAA surveys have shown even more support among both athletes and coaches for lessening time demands.

"We believe we have found the right balance between helping students participate in sports while also providing them with more downtime," the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC said in a joint statement. "Different sports have different demands and we think the concepts we've agreed to will help tens of thousands of students achieve more balance as they pursue their academic and athletic commitments."

Last month, the Ivy League's athletic directors adopted similar rules aimed at lessening time demands.

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