Monday, January 14, 2008

What's happening at the NCAA?

The annual NCAA convention is taking place in Nashville right now.
Of note is the proposal in front of DIII schools right now to limit the use of male practice players in women's basketball. Donna Ledwin, commissioner of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, has this compelling editorial at Inside Higher Ed which explains the proposal and offers reasons as to why it is worth supporting, including how it fits in with the educational mission of Division III. The issue of limiting male practice players has been controversial since it was first mentioned last year some time but most of the discussion and coverage has focused on DI athletics where nearly everyone--including, and maybe even especially, female head coaches like Joanne McCallie of Duke--have balked at the idea of eliminating men from their teams. It will be interesting to see how the DIII administrators vote--assuming the discussion does not get tabled again.
DI coaches are still not allowed to text message recruits. A ban has been in effect for about five months and will continue on as a measure to override it failed by a large margin. Good call, I think. Though I find it amusing to imagine coaches trying to communicate with teenagers in a medium teenagers have constructed and perfected. What do they write? "Please, please come play for me. I'll be your BFF (best friend forever)." [Actually I am sure there is a text abbreviation for please now.]
Or maybe "Great game last night. Can you believe what that other coach was wearing? LOL. We REALLY want you on our team. TTFN."
And in news that isn't probably all that surprising to anyone except, apparently, NCAA administrators, DI football players spend more time on their sport, per week, than a normal full-time job. These student-athletes are averaging 44.8 hours/week on football, and that doesn't include time carved out for academics like mandatory study halls. University of Hartford president Walt Harrison who heads the NCAA's academic performance committee called it an "early warning sign." Not so early, I would say. It's common knowledge that all DI student-athletes spend an inordinate amount of time on their sports--even those not playing football. A 2006 study of NCAA athletes across sports and divisions found that time spent on their respective sports out of season can equal or exceed time spent during the season; that a majority of DIers believe they would have had higher GPAs if they did not play sports, and that most feel more like athletes rather than students.
And finally, in his annual state of the association address yesterday, NCAA president Myles Brand called for greater attention to the lack of racial minorities and women in positions of leadership in college athletics. EBuz over at the Title IX Blog comments on Brand's speech and suggests the NCAA adopt a version of the Rooney Rule that would address both the lack of women and minorities and put pressure on institutions to justify a lack of women and people of color in the candidate pool.

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