NCAA Education: Student-Athletes Engaged in Athletically Related Activity During a Required Day Off

NCAA Educational Column
Date Published: August 8, 2012

NCAA Division I institutions should note that all countable athletically related activities are prohibited during one calendar day per week during the playing season and two calendar days per week outside the playing season during the academic year. A student athlete may engage in voluntary athletically related activity during the student-athlete’s required day off, provided the activity was initiated and requested solely by the student-athlete; however, athletically related activity becomes countable if:

a) The student-athlete is required to report back any information about the activity to a coach or other athletics department staff member, or any athletics department staff member who observes the activity reports back any information about the activity to a coach;

b) The student-athlete is required to participate in the activity;

c) The student-athlete’s attendance and participation in the activity (or lack thereof) is recorded for the purposes of reporting such information to coaching staff members or other student-athletes; or

d) The student-athlete is subject to penalty for failing to participate in the activity, or receives recognition or incentive (e.g., awards) based on his or her attendance or performance in the activity.

The following scenarios are designed to assist the Division I membership with the application of this legislation. In each scenario, the declared week is Monday through Sunday.

Scenario No. 1: A coach did not schedule any countable athletically related activities on Sunday during the playing season. On Tuesday of that week, a student-athlete missed a required workout and did not engage in any countable athletically related activities that day. The coach required the student-athlete to make up the missed workout on Sunday.

Analysis: The required day (or days) off may be applied to each student-athlete individually, as opposed to requiring the entire team to take the same day or days off. For this student-athlete, the required day off – playing season legislation is satisfied because he did not participate in any countable athletically related activities during one calendar day (Tuesday) during the week. Therefore, provided the duration of the required make up workout satisfies the daily and weekly hour limitations, it is permissible to require the student-athlete to complete the missed workout on Sunday. This is permissible even if the student-athlete’s teammates are scheduled to use Sunday as their required day off for the week.

Scenario No. 2: On a Thursday during the playing season, a coach scheduled a one-hour strength and conditioning session in the morning and a three-hour practice in the afternoon. Recognizing that some student-athletes might have class conflicts in the morning, they were provided the option of attending the Thursday morning session or completing the workout on Sunday, the team’s only day off that week. One student-athlete was unable to attend the Thursday morning workout, but participated in the afternoon practice. On Sunday, the student-athlete made up the required session she was unable to attend on Thursday.

Analysis: The student-athlete was required to either participate in the Thursday morning session or complete the session on her required day off. She did not participate in the Thursday morning session; therefore, her participation on Sunday was required. The student-athlete’s participation in the Thursday afternoon practice prevents the institution from using Thursday as her required day off for the week. Therefore, by requiring her to participate in a countable athletically related activity on Sunday (the designated day off for the week), the institution violated the required day off legislation. This is the case even though the student-athlete chose to attend the second of two available sessions and was not assigned to attend the Sunday session rather than the Thursday session.

Scenario No. 3: Due to a commitment that conflicts with the team’s usual practice schedule, the coach excuses a student-athlete from a required conditioning session that occurs immediately prior to the start of on-field practice. The student-athlete arrives in time to join his teammates for the on-field practice. In an effort to maintain his training regimen, the student-athlete contacts the strength coach and asks about opportunities to catch up on the missed conditioning activities. During his required day off, the student-athlete chooses to perform two hours of strength and conditioning activities while the weight room is open for voluntary activities.

Analysis: It is permissible for a student-athlete to engage in voluntary athletically related activities at any time, including during a required day off. It is also permissible for an athletics department staff member to provide information to student-athletes related to available opportunities for participating in voluntary activities (e.g., times when the strength and conditioning coach will be on duty in the weight room or on the track). In addition, for students who have initiated a request to engage in voluntary activities, the athletics department staff member may assign specific times for student-athletes to use institutional facilities for such purposes and inform the student-athletes of the time in advance.

Scenario No. 4: During the playing season, a coach requires every student-athlete on the team to complete three strength and conditioning sessions per week, but does not designate specific times for these required athletically related activities. A student-athlete completed two of the three required sessions on days during which she had engaged in other countable athletically related activities. The only day left during the declared week is Sunday, the student-athlete’s required day off. On Sunday, the student-athlete checks in with the strength coach in preparation for her final required session.

Analysis: It would not be permissible to allow this student-athlete to perform the session as a required activity (i.e., reported back to the coach, credited for completion of her third required workout) or the institution will have failed to provide a day off during week. The student-athlete may engage in the conditioning session as a voluntary athletically related activity, provided she understands she is not required to do so, her participation will not be reported back to the coach and she cannot be credited with completing a required workout.

[References: NCAA Division I Bylaws 17.02.1 (countable athletically related activities), 17.02.13 (voluntary athletically related activities), (daily and weekly hour limitations – playing season), (weekly hour limitations – outside the palying season), (required day off — playing season) and (required days off — outside of the playing season); and a staff interpretation (8/25/04, Item No. 1b)]

Notice about Educational Columns: Educational columns and hot topics are intended to assist the membership with the correct application of legislation and/or interpretations by providing clarifications, reminders and examples. They are based on legislation and official and staff interpretations applicable at the time of publication. Therefore, educational columns and hot topics are binding to the extent that the legislation and interpretations on which they are based remain applicable. Educational columns are posted on a regular basis to address a variety of issues and hot topics are posted as necessary in order to address timely issues.

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