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Expect to spend less time with your players in the near future

The College Athletes Protection Association (CAPA) has yet to win a battle in mediation, but the union fronted by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter has already pushed the NCAA to change the way it does business.

In its quest to prove that student-athletes are employees, CAPA lawyers have parsed threw a plethora of press conferences, pulling out quotes of coaches saying that playing a college sport is really a full-time job. A moment of bragging now turned into an attempt at damning evidence. 

The NCAA isn't about to admit that, yes, student-athletes are employees, but it is talking about backing off the hours required of its players, especially out of season.

"One of the things that's being very actively discussed right now is the creation — it would have to be sport-by-sport, of course — for serious dead periods," NCAA president Mark Emmert told the Baltimore Sun. He continued: "But we know, of course, that doesn't count all the informal activity that goes on," Emmert said. "When you survey student-athletes, they're putting in more like between 30 and 40 hours. We need something stronger than that [20-hour rule], and these blocked-out time periods may be the solution. So the members are debating that right now."

Emmert's definition of a dead period means players would be forbidden from the weight room, practice or any sort of informal team activities. 

"We need to look at the practice time, what's voluntary, what's not voluntary and be realistic and come up with something that's satisfying everybody," Maryland athletics director Kevin Anderson told the paper. "We walk on a fine line right now, and we definitely need to address that and look at it differently than what we're doing now. As we go on, you'll definitely see a change in how student athletes' time is spent pertaining to football or basketball — or whatever sport they're playing — and academics."

While no dates were thrown out for a supposed football dead period, my speculation is that there would be one dead period in January following bowl season (when team activity is dead anyway) and another around finals week in May. 

While it wouldn't be much of a departure from the way most teams do business, any sort of official barrier between players and coaches would be hotly debated. Many believe that time away from the watchful eye of the coaching staff is when trouble happens to find most players, while Stanford head coach David Shaw has gone on record stating that players and coaches need a vacation period away from each other.

Now, whether the NCAA is talking dead periods as a real solution to the wear-and-tear in college athletics or as a defense tactic in court? That's another debate for another day. This is the NCAA, after all.