DI SAAC weighs in on rules changes
As the Rules Working Group continues its review of the Division I manual, the student-athletes on the national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee are paying close attention. At every quarterly meeting they vet the concepts from their perspective and the perspective of their peers across the country.
They’ve developed early positions on some topics and will provide those positions to the Rules Group. Their biggest message for the administrators, coaches and presidents on that body? Thank you for listening.
“Our voices are being heard. The NCAA cares about our input and is actually taking that into consideration before they finalize anything,” said Chalonda Goodman, a track and field student-athlete at Texas. “I feel like that’s the most important thing for student-athletes.”
Maddie Salamone, a lacrosse student-athlete at Duke University and vice-chair of the 31-member national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, wants to be sure that sentiment continues, and that members of the SAAC take seriously their responsibility to gather input from peers.
“We want to be in the loop as much as possible, and we are making a big push to increase our communication (to other student-athletes),” she said. “Right now, we’re pleased with (the rules group) opening up the legislation to allow for more flexibility for student-athletes.”
Georgia football student-athlete Christian Conley agreed that student-athletes are satisfied with the way the rules group is progressing.
“We as a committee definitely agreed that there are some rules that are over-the-top,” Conley said. “We have confidence in the way the NCAA is handling it, and we are thankful they are allowing us input as student-athletes.”
In the past, the national SAAC has voiced strong opinions on changes to recruiting rules. In 2007, the student-athletes were successful in convincing administrators to prohibit coaches from text-messaging recruits, and were instrumental in preventing an override of that legislation. As the years passed, attitudes toward the quick-hit form of communication evolved. As the membership considers deregulating recruiting contacts, the student-athletes on SAAC (none of which were on the committee in 2007), are supportive – to a point.
“In the sport of football, allowing text-messaging would open up whole new venues for coaches to contact recruits. A lot of communication comes through text messages now. It could be a good thing,” Conley said. “But we want to keep the student-athlete’s best interests in mind. There should be a little bit of breathing room so they’re not badgered all the time. It has the potential to be overwhelming.”
Conley acknowledged that coaches probably won’t bombard recruits with texts if they believe it could backfire, but said there’s no real way to regulate that. For their part, he believes some recruits will be intimidated enough by coaches that they won’t be able to say “stop.”
“It will be a risk we take,” he said.
SAAC Chair Eugene Daniels, a former football player at Colorado State, said coaches have lives to live as well, and that life-work balance issues still need to be worked out. The student-athletes believe phone calls are more invasive than text messages and should be regulated more strongly. The SAAC is in favor of allowing contact with recruits starting July 1 following the student’s sophomore year in high school. The current proposal has a June 15 date.
The SAAC is also supportive of strengthening the academic rules and regulations, including strengthening progress-toward-degree requirements. Salamone said the group wants to reinforce the idea that “student” comes before “athlete.”
“It’s funny, I think people expect us to be against (stronger academic requirements), but I think we can be the hardest on ourselves and have the highest expectations. We push ourselves on the field, but we also push ourselves in the classroom,” she said. “We do want to perform well in the classroom, and we think stronger standards are not unreasonable.”
The group also discussed the idea of creating academic requirements for student-athletes in some sports to transfer and play immediately. Conley noted the dangers of allowing student-athletes in all sports to play immediately upon transfer, but supported the addition of an academic component.
“We don’t want to broaden it necessarily because there will be a lot of team-swapping by a lot of people in certain sports,” he said. “In smaller sports, there should be more leeway because they are usually transferring not because they want to play but because of personal preference and opportunities at another university. If they have the right grades and are on top of things academically, they shouldn’t be hampered by a rule.”
Some administrators have longed to eliminate rules that tell schools what, when, where and how they can feed their student-athletes. The student-athletes are interested in that topic as well. They support a deregulation of meals legislation and want to include all student-athletes, not just those on scholarship.
“I’ve always felt uncomfortable personally about walk-ons not being able to eat the same thing when they are working as hard if not harder then we (scholarship athletes) are,” Daniels said. “They also have to find a way to pay for school. We think we should feed everybody.”
Daniels acknowledged the issues such a plan would create between schools at different resource levels, but said the student-athletes ended up in much the same place as the rules working group: The less-resourced schools are already at a recruiting disadvantage because they have fewer resources in other areas, not just meals.
“It’s not about me going on my official visit and seeing that the team gets steak and lobster before a game. That’s not what makes my decision for me,” he said.
Daniels said the SAAC did not support providing cash instead of a meal because student-athletes don’t always make the best nutritional decisions when provided cash instead of food.
“I’m not going to spend that whole $15 on a meal. I’ll get the McDonald’s dollar menu, which doesn’t provide enough nutrition,” he said.
The SAAC will continue to discuss the concepts and legislative proposals coming out of the Rules Working Group. The group has a webinar set in September, after which they will continue to seek the feedback of student-athletes within their conferences.
They will examine each proposal broadly from the perspective of how it benefits the majority of student-athletes. The SAAC’s next in-person meeting will be in November in Indianapolis.
The football recruiting coordinator at Ocean State University (OSU) is dividing up the telephone calls to senior prospects. There are several prospects located in different time zones. In these situations, do the OSU coaches use their time zone or the prospect’s time zone to determine when calls may be made?
The coaches will use the time zone where the prospect is located. NCAA Staff Interpretation- 6/24/98-Telephone Calls to Prospects- states that the membership services staff reviewed the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 regarding the permissible time period for making telephone calls to prospects and determined that the time zone (e.g., Eastern, Standard, Pacific) where the prospect is located (as opposed to the location from where the call is being placed) should be used in determining when such calls may be made.
[Reference: 18.104.22.168 (time period for telephone calls — general rule)]
Shot Block is a men’s basketball prospect that is going to visit Ocean State University (OSU) in a few weeks. Shot is going to fly to campus, but his mother is going to drive. Because his mother is a little uneasy about the drive, one of the OSU assistant coaches has offered to ride with her. Is this permissible?
Yes with conditions. NCAA Staff Interpretation- 8/24/12-Coach Traveling with Prospective Student-Athlete’s Parents to Campus on an Official Visit (I)- states that if a prospective student-athlete flies to an institution for an official visit and the prospective student-athlete’s parents drive to the institution’s campus to accompany the prospective student-athlete on the official visit, it is permissible for a member institution’s coach to ride with the prospective student-athlete’s parents from their home to the institution and back to their home, provided the contact with the prospective student-athlete’s parents occurs during a contact period (recruiting period in men’s basketball) and is counted as one of the in-person off-campus contacts that may occur with the prospective student-athlete. Also, in men’s basketball, an institution may reimburse the prospective student-athlete’s parents or legal guardians (expenses for up to two people) for the actual round-trip costs to accompany the prospective student-athlete on his official visit.
[References: NCAA Bylaws 13.02.4 (contact), 13.02.5.3 (recruiting period — men’s basketball), 13.1.5 (contacts), 22.214.171.124.1 (prospective student-athlete’s relatives or friends), 126.96.36.199 (transportation of prospective student-athlete’s relatives, friends or legal guardians) and 188.8.131.52.1 (exception — transportation expenses for a prospective student-athlete’s parents or legal guardians — men’s basketball), and staff interpretation (01/28/87, Item Ref: 4-a-(3), which has been archived]
Scout Team is a walk-on football student-athlete at Ocean State University. Scout would like to eat the training meals with his teammates, but he is not receiving an athletic scholarship. If Scout pays for the meal, would he be permitted to eat with the scholarship student-athletes?
Yes. NCAA Staff Interpretation- 8/24/12-Walk-on Student-Athlete Receiving Training Table Meal (I)– states that a student-athlete who is not receiving athletically related financial aid that includes board (e.g., walk-on) may receive training table meals under any of the following circumstances:
1. The student-athlete has previously paid for all meals through a regular institutional meal plan and misses a meal due to practice activities (i.e., the meal is available in the dining hall only during the time practice is in session);
2. The student-athlete pays for the training table meal at the same rate that the institution deducts from the board allowance of student-athletes who receive athletically related aid covering board costs;
3. The student-athlete is on an institutional meal plan and pays the difference in the cost between the two meals, provided the student-athlete could not use the unused meal under the regular institutional meal plan at a later date; or
4. The student-athlete reports on call and becomes involved in activities related to a home competition.
[References: NCAA Division I Bylaws 16.5.2-(d) (meals incidental to participation) and 184.108.40.206 (competition while representing institution) and a 8/25/04 staff interpretation, item 1a and a 5/12/93 staff interpretation, item c, which have been archived]
Which of the following is true regarding permissible recruiting activities for a prospect who was not a qualifier and is enrolled in the first year of a two-year college?
A. The prospect may take an official visit.
B. Coaches may have contact with this prospect off the institution’s campus.
C. Coaches may telephone this prospect.
D. No recruiting activities are permissible with this prospect.
The answer is C. NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 states that a prospective student-athlete who was not a qualifier as defined in Bylaw 14.02.11.1 and who is enrolled in the first year of a two-year college may not be contacted in person on or off an institution’s campus for recruiting purposes.
NCAA Staff Interpretation- 8/24/12-Telephone Calls to Two-Year College Prospective Student-Athletes (I)- states that a prospective student-athlete who was not a qualifier and who is enrolled in his or her first year at a two-year college may be contacted by telephone for recruiting purposes, subject to the applicable telephone calls legislation.
[Reference: NCAA Division I Bylaws 18.104.22.168 (two-year college prospective student-athletes), 22.214.171.124 (general restrictions — staff members and governing board), 126.96.36.199 (time period for telephone calls — general rule) and 188.8.131.52 (not a qualifier); and a 11/15/1991 staff interpretation, Item No. a ]
No. NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206.1 states that in baseball, cross country (for institutions without indoor or outdoor track and field), field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball, no class time shall be missed in conjunction with non-championship segment competition, including activities associated with such competition (e.g., travel and other pregame or post-game activities). (Adopted: 4/28/11 effective 8/1/11)
There are a few secondary violation cases posted on LSDBi pertaining to this issue. These cases included a 2 for 1 penalty based on the amount of class time missed.