Daily Compliance Item- 12.15.16-, 17.02.1- Sports Psychologist Attending Practice

The Ocean State University softball coaches noticed that a few of their student-athletes have not been performing very well at practice. Thinking the issues may not be athletically related, the coaches asked a sports psychologist to evaluate these student-athletes at yesterday’s skill instruction session.

The sports psychologist watched practice but did not have any contact with the student-athletes. After practice the coaches met with this individual to try to determine what the issues might be. The sports psychologist determined these student-athletes are having trouble focusing, so she asked to meet with them one on one. The coaches are requiring the student-athletes to meet with the sports psychologist this afternoon.

Which of the following is true?

A. The sports psychologist’s presence at practice does not require the institution to count her in the coaching limitations.
B. The individual session the student-athletes will have with the sports psychologist must be considered a countable athletically related activity.
C. Both A and B are true
D. Neither A or B are true

The answer is C. NCAA Official Interpretation- Use of Sports Psychologist (I)- states that a sports psychologist may attend practice sessions without being included in the institution’s coaching limitations in a particular sport, provided the individual does not provide any technical or tactical instruction related to the sport or make or assist in making tactical decisions related to the sport during on-court or on-field practice or competition. A sports psychologist may evaluate a student-athlete during a practice session only for the purposes of assisting the student-athlete in off-court or off-field noncoaching activities (e.g., mental imagery) directly related to the sport; however, if a student-athlete is required to meet with the sports psychologist, such a meeting is considered a countable athletically related activity.

Further, an institution may require a student-athlete to meet with a sports psychologist as a permissible out-of-season conditioning activity for the purposes of assisting the student-athlete in off-court or off-field noncoaching activities (e.g., mental imagery) directly related to the sport, provided the time engaged in such sessions is included in the maximum limit of eight hours per week for countable athletically related activities outside the playing season. In bowl subdivision football, the sports psychologist does not have to count as one of the five strength and conditioning coaches permitted to work with the football program in any capacity.

[References: NCAA Bylaws (countable coach); 17.02.1 (countable athletically related activities); (weekly hour limitations — outside the playing season and staff interpretations, 12/12/14, Item b. which has been archived]

Jennifer M. Condaras
Deputy Commissioner, NCAA Relations & Administration
Colonial Athletic Association

The opinions expressed in the Daily Compliance Item are the author’s and the author’s alone, and are not endorsed by The COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION or JumpForward. The Daily Compliance Item is not a substitute for a compliance office, case specific research, or the NCAA Bylaws. Do some homework, ask around, and get it right.

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