If Michigan players complained about spending long hours on football, they were only voicing what many other student-athletes have told the NCAA.
While the Wolverines’ football program confronts allegations it broke NCAA rules, including the 20-hours-per-week limit on practices, the governing body’s own survey data show top-level
The 2006 survey of 21,000 student-athletes, the NCAA’s first attempt to measure time commitments, attracted little national notice. But it alarmed many educators and administrators when discussed at last year’s NCAA convention.
The most glaring statistic: Football players in major
The student-athletes were reporting how they spent their time, and not necessarily what was formally required by their programs.
But the findings cast doubt on whether the 20-hour limit works when so many student-athletes on their own initiative or under pressure from coaches are doing so much more.
More broadly, the survey confirmed the extent to which top-level
“It’s madness,” said John Roush, a former
“It had become in fact a job,” said Roush, who contends 20-hour limits are flagrantly violated by most major programs. “It was a job they welcomed, participated in willingly and they had a lot of success. But it owned too much of their experience.”
NCAA rules limit student-athletes to 20 hours per week of “required” and “supervised” practice and training time during the season, and eight hours per week in the offseason. But those terms have been blurred by novelties like “captain’s practices” where attendance isn’t formally required but absences are noted. Other complications include summer weight-room training: Safety rules may require that conditioning staff be present, but how much can they work with athletes before it counts as training?
The Detroit Free Press cited unidentified Michigan players alleging the program regularly exceeded daily and weekly limits. They also alleged quality-control staff watched supposedly voluntary offseason scrimmages that only training staff should have attended.
Coach Rich Rodriguez and the
“You wake up early in the morning, especially at LSU where we set up all our classes in the morning,” said Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, describing a typical
Jackson insisted LSU was careful to follow guidelines, and credits the
Indeed, while the 20-hour rule was adopted in the early 1990s to protect student-athletes’ health and well-being, some of its sharpest critics have been student-athletes themselves. They’ve argued they should be free to train harder as long as they meet academic obligations.
“What makes it difficult is how good these kids want to be,” Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel said this week. “Sometimes you have to chain the doors of the Woody Hayes (football) center, you know, to get them out of there.”
That’s fine for professional athletes but not for young adults who are still students, said Nathan Tublitz, a
Why football sticks out isn’t fully known, but some elements are clear: time-consuming strength training, film work and the pressure to win that comes with packed stadiums, big television contracts and enormous school pride.
“With the escalation in salaries, the escalation in money involved in these sports, there’s a consequence to that, and that ends up being an escalation in the demands on the athletes,” said Amy Perko, executive director of the Knight Commission, a group pushing
NCAA spokesman Eric Christianson, emphasizing he wasn’t addressing specific cases, said the organization is “troubled when student-athletes lose their choice on how to spend their free time,” which is why it adopted the 20-hour rule. He also said recent reforms have improved the balance between athletics and academics, noting programs with poor Academic Progress Rates can lose even more practice time.
One of the biggest concerns is out-of-season practices and what used to be summer vacation. In the NCAA survey, 70 percent of major
Said Roush, the Centre president: “I bet there’s only a couple, two or three Michigan players, that were even home this summer. That’s ridiculous. It’s a situation out of balance and the NCAA needs to revisit it.”
AP Sports Writers John Marshall in Kansas City, Mo., and Rusty Miller in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.w
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com