Earlier this year, nearly 50,000 Division I student athletes weighed in with suggestions to the NCAA with respect to the time demands they have on them, and the commissioners of the most powerful conferences in football were listening, and have some proposals to give them more time off.
According to a release from the ACC, the aim of the changes is to provide "students with more time to focus on other college interests, including academics, work experience, travel, and additional rest."
In a joint statement, the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC commissioners explained:
“We heard from our students that they would like more certainty in their schedules in order to engage in other activities. We recognize there will need to be a level of flexibility and reasonableness in carrying out these changes, especially with regard to travel, but students deserve time off and we want athletic departments to work in a sensible and appropriate way to provide it. We want administrators to have some degree of flexibility in implementing these rules, but they must be mindful that rest is important to a student’s health, in addition to their athletic and academic performance.”
“We believe we have found the right balance between helping students participate in sports while also providing them with more down time. Different sports have different demands and we think the concepts we’ve agreed to will help tens of thousands of students achieve more balance as they pursue their academic and athletic commitments.”
In summary, here are the proposals broken down:
After the season: All student athletes would be free of required athletic activities for at least seven days to recover from the season.
During the academic year: In order "to allow students to engage in other collegiate activities" each student would be provided an additional 14 days off during the academic year where there is no required athletic activity. These can take place during the season, or outside the season, but must be during the academic year.
In season: Beyond the Flex 21 (see below), commissioners propose that every student athlete have at least one day a week free from sports during the season, and this includes travel. Current rules require one day off, but many programs use travel days to adhere to that rule.
Overnight: Students would have a solid eight-hour block of time off in between team activities overnight between 9pm - 6am.
In addition to the current rules already in place, a Flex 21 is being recommended that will provide student athletes (in most cases) an additional 21 days off where they are free from required athletic activities during the academic year.
If approved, many of those suggestions would require some extra legwork from head coaches, their DFO and support staff, and the rest of the program's staff. It's a lot to digest, so head here to read more of a breakdown.
Below is a look at the current rules, as well as a brief summary of the proposed changes that will be voted on in January, from the ACC release, as well as tweets from Joe Schad and other members of the media weighing in on the proposals.