Enabling student-athletes to be successful on the field and in their field of study.
onField inField seeks to change the NCAA full-time student required number of hours from 12 to 6 during the season and 9 during the off-season to enable students-athletes to be successful both on the field and in their chosen field of study. Scholarship players would be given additional time and support to complete their degree.
Student-athletes have one of the most difficult jobs on campus. Not only must they excel in the classroom as a full-time student but they are also under tremendous pressure to succeed on the playing field. Some student-athletes work more than 40+ hours a week on their sport. The schools need them to do well and win games. At the same time schools also want them to excel academically, be enlightened, and succeed in life.
In a time when less than 2% of NCAA players will become professional athletes in their chosen sport, it is vital that student-athletes have a realistic opportunity to earn an education and thrive in a different professional arena. The restriction on the amount of time they have for other pursuits makes this difficult.
We require our student-athletes to be full-time students and full-time athletes at the same time. Simply put, a person cannot be full-time at two things.
The NCAA limits student-athletes to only 20 hours of required practice during the season but an NCAA survey of 20,000 student-athletes in 2011 2011 showed the actual time was much higher. For example, football and baseball players in the study estimated they spent more than 40+ hours per week on their sport.
It would be difficult for even the most talented and committed students to have a physically demanding full-tie job while taking a full course load to be able to do more than pass. It is not fair to the student-athlete to be required to work a full-time job and be a full-time student.
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During the competitive season, student-athletes would be required to take a minimum of 6 hours and during the off-season would take 9 hours rather than the currently required 12 in both semesters. This reduced load would provide more time for student-athletes to learn and succeed in each individual class rather than simply survive the full load. Schools would still designate them as full-time students because of their athletic involvement.
Scholarship players would continue to receive those benefits, including tutoring and support services for the additional four semesters after their eligibility period end to ensure they could complete their degree.
Student-athletes would have more opportunity to learn and thrive rather than simply survive with a D by having more time to devote to learning in and out of class. Student athletes would have more choices of majors or fields of study and would not be limited to the majors that they find easy.
Student-athletes would have more opportunities for deeper involvement (conferences, field trips, student organizations) in their discipline in the last two years of their degree which would make them better prepared for securing jobs within their chosen career field.
Obviously, there will be an increase in cost to the universities to keep students on scholarship for an additional two years UNC Chapel HIll as an example it would mean an additional $10,000-$12,000 per scholarship player that continues if they continue to live on campus. If they decline room-and-board, the difference would be about $2,500 for fees and support due to the reduced tuition cost each semester for the smaller load. Basically, it defers the cost and does not require any additional spending for tuition.
Next Steps and Support
The NCAA rules committee will need to consider this idea and if they decided to move the rule forward, it would have to be voted on by members. The University of North Carolina will be presenting this to the NCAA for consideration but we are also interested to know what concerns the public sees in this proposal.
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Not every athlete needs this opportunity and many will choose to take a full load. Also, some will go pro after their final season and choose not to graduate. But for those students that want to be successful in a field they care about, this could be the solution.
This plan to reduce the load on student-athletes will provide a system to make them more successful and thus have more business and job opportunities after graduation at a small cost to the athletic departments.
The NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) already tracks student athletes over a 6-year period as opposed the Federal Graduation Rate (FGR), which is defined at 4 years. The 6-year rate is 17% higher than the FGR for NCAA student athletes demonstrating that many student athletes need extra semesters to complete a degree and shows that student athletes are willing to stay extra years in order to earn a degree and graduate.
The American Association of University Professors recomends 10-15 hours of work per week to be a sucessfull student.