PRESS RELEASE – NOVEMBER 5, 2019
For immediate release
For more information:
Dr. B. David Ridpath, Ed.D.
The Drake Group
The NCAA and Member Institutions Must Prohibit Physical Punishment of College Athletes
NEW HAVEN, CT. – Recent reports of Rutgers University softball coaches forcing players to run six 100-yard sprints in less than 17 seconds each as punishment for exceeding a meal budget by $6 at a local restaurant and similar reports of physical, emotional and verbal abuse incidents, was one catalyst for the issuance of this call to action by The Drake Group. The other is the fact that despite the NCAA having stated its position on physical punishment as follows, it has no requirement for member institutions to comply:
The recommendations note that punishment workouts are based on intent and unsound physiological principles. However, beyond that, no formal definition is provided. Punishment workouts are more than just “extra exercise.” In general terms, punitive workouts are motivated by anger or frustration and may include a volume and intensity of exercise corresponding to that anger and frustration. Such volume and intensity is not part of a planned workout and is not based on sound principles of exercise science and physiology, but rather is used to make athletes “tougher” or to create a team culture of “accountability.” Punitive exercises are unplanned, spontaneous, are inconsistent with the conditioning level of the athlete or team, are not logically progressive in intensity, and are not sport-specific in their nature. Common sense should prevail. [2}
Thus, B. David Ridpath, Ed.D., President of The Drake Group, issued the following statement:
“America has suffered through the years long story of the horrific sexual abuse of USA national team and Michigan State gymnasts at the hands of sports physician Larry Nassar and the failures of the United States Olympic Committee and numerous national sport governing bodies such as USA Swimming and USA Speedskating to protect athletes in open amateur and Olympic sport. Congress finally had to step in to establish the United States Center for Safe Sport and ensure that a SafeSport Code of conduct was a mandatory requirement for coaches and other working and volunteer adults in non-school sport. No similar athlete protection program exists for college athletes. In fact, the NCAA has consistently insisted that it is the responsibility of member institutions and not the NCAA to protect athletes from physical, emotional and other forms of abuse despite the fact that the NCAA can adopt and require members to conform to the same SafeSport Code as non-school-based athletes. The Drake Group calls upon the NCAA to exercise such governance responsibility and for Congress to investigate why these same protections are not available for school-based sport.”
Ridpath continued, “How many times do we have to hear about instances of athlete abuse at the hands of coaches? Will we wait for another athlete death like Jordan McNair, University of Maryland football player, to condemn and then do nothing? Should we be satisfied by action only when parents bring lawsuits against the offending institution and employee? Should we continue to ignore NCAA failures to “govern” – failures to act to prevent athlete harm and discipline those who fail to do so?”
The Drake Group has consistently contended that the high-risk competitive environment of intercollegiate athletics requires the NCAA to mandate responsible actions by its members to protect the health and well-being of college athletes. This national governance organization responsibility is in addition to the responsibilities of the institutional member and athletic department employees. Each entity has different, but complementary authorities to prevent harm. All three must combat the pressures of commercialized athletic programs to produce winning teams, recognizing that coaches are not licensed or certified and there are insufficient medical personnel who are trained to recognize and mitigate health risks and assigned to observe team practices. Athletes are at the bottom of the power rung, fearing the loss of scholarships, playing time and even team membership if they complain about coaches. This college athletics environment threatens to sacrifice the well-being of athletes on the altar of victory. It will take the proverbial village to protect athletes within this reality and they are all looking the other way – the NCAA, higher education institutions, athletics administrators and even other coaches who fear reporting their peers.
Educators know what has to be done and are ignoring their responsibility. For example,The Drake Group among others has previously issued blueprints for NCAA and institutional policy actions which would properly protect athletes. In December of 2016, The Drake Group issued a position statement on Athletic Governance Organization and Institutional Responsibilities Related to Professional Coaching Conduct. In October of 2019, a detailed analysis and additional recommendations were offered in The Drake Group’s position statement on College Athlete Health and Protection from Physical and Psychological Harm. Ridpath concluded, “It’s time for Congress to undertake a comprehensive examination of the need for intercollegiate athletics reform. At stake is the integrity of our higher education institutions and the health and educational well-being of college athletes.” Josh Newman. Rutgers softball players claim physical, emotional abuse; school announces investigation. Asbury Park Press. (October 31, 2019). Retrieve at: https://www.app.com/story/sports/college/2019/10/31/rutgers-softball-players-claim-physical-emotional-abuse-but-school-did-nothing/4082870002/
 National Collegiate Athletic Association. Interassociation Recommendations: Preventing Catastrophic Injury and Death in Collegiate Athletics July 19 2019: Frequently Asked Questions. (p. 6). Retrieve at: https://ncaaorg.s3.amazonaws.com/ssi/injury_prev/SSI_CatastrophicInjuryPreventionFAQs.pdf