There is probably no more significant roadblock for college athletes seeking meaningful educations than the unreasonable amounts of time they must engage in practice and other athletics-related activities. In every NCAA and conference survey and through numerous research studies, athletes have made their concerns and needs concerning time spent on their sports known. Excessive athletics time demands are interfering with sleep, prohibiting recovery from injury and strenuous exercise sessions, increasing the dangers of concussion, inducing stress that affects mental health, and greatly interfering with academic responsibilities and choice of major.
Dr. B. Dave Ridpath of Ohio University and President of The Drake Group stated, “The Big Five Autonomy Conferences’ recent “Flex 21″ proposed rules changes (questionably applauded by the Knight Commission) are woefully inadequate and continue to mask the larger problem. This approach by the Big Five reflects the inability of institutions with commercialized football and basketball programs to recognize the conflict of interest that exists between protecting revenue production and multi-million dollar coaches’ salaries while attempting to balance the most important issue–which is the health and academic well-being of college athletes.” The Drake Group, after careful study, issued eight achievable and measurable recommendations to adequately confront the time demands issue as opposed to simply masking the issue.
Ridpath continued, “Equally important is the issue of coaches’ control of athletes, who, as college students, should be learning critical life skills such as individual accountability and independence. Such coach control in football, basketball, and many other Division I sports also crosses the line of demarcation between the college athlete as a student and as a professional athlete employee. A reversal of time demands in favor of academic priorities and control by college athletes over their own rest, safety, study time, and social time is necessary or it will become even more disingenuous to call these athletes students.”