By Michelle Brutlag Hosick|
The NCAA News
The Division I Legislative Council decided that all incoming Division I student-athletes must be tested for sickle cell trait, show proof of a prior test or sign a waiver releasing an institution from liability if they decline to be tested. The new rule will be in effect for the 2010-11 academic year. The legislation applies to student -athletes who are beginning their initial season of eligibility and students who are trying out for the team.
The original legislation requiring all incoming student-athletes to be tested before participating in athletically related activities was sponsored by Conference USA as part of a settlement between Rice and the parents of a football student-athlete whose death was tied to sickle cell trait. A subsequent version allowed institutions to accept documented evidence of a prior test in place of completing the testing themselves. The Ivy League then sponsored an amendment allowing student-athletes to decline the test.
Legislative Council chair Joe D'Antonio said the Council's action provides the greatest flexibility both for member institutions and student-athletes.
Allowing student-athletes to decline the test addresses concerns that student-athletes who test positive for the trait might be denied opportunities. The National Athletic Trainers' Association encourages institutions to screen incoming student-athletes. The NATA advocates a slow buildup of conditioning activities and frequent rest-and-recovery periods for all student-athletes because this approach can reduce adverse effects caused by sickle cell trait and is also a healthier approach overall.
Sickle cell trait can change the shape of red blood cells during intense or extensive exertion, causing a blockage in blood vessels and rapid breakdown of muscles, including the heart. Initial tests for the trait are inexpensive at about $5 a test, though follow-up testing can be more expensive.
The Council also addressed several other pieces of legislation remaining in the 2009-10 cycle. The Council:
- Adopted Proposal No. 2009-103. The Big 12-sponsored legislation defines a "deserving team" for the purposes of bowl selection as one that has at least a .500 record against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. Non-equity FBS conferences strongly opposed the new rule as unfair to smaller leagues.
- Defeated Proposal No. 2009-102. Part of a package of proposals created to address problems in men's basketball recruiting, the legislation would have required institutions to hire only enrolled students or institutional staff members at camps and clinics.
- Adopted Proposal No. 2009-101 as amended. The original proposal, which would have allowed recruiting to take place at institutional camps and clinics in men's basketball, was narrowed in scope to allow only recruiting conversations to take place at the events. This proposal was also part of the men's basketball recruiting package.
- Referred Proposal No. 2009-100 to the Men's Basketball Issues Committee for further study with a directive to come back with more refined legislation at the next opportunity. The proposal would prohibit institutions from hosting, sponsoring or conducting nonscholastic men's basketball contests, practices or events at campus facilities or off-campus facilities regularly used by the institution. The legislation, introduced by the Board of Directors on October 29, 2009, includes the caveat that contracts entered into after that date will be considered in violation if the rule is adopted. While the proposal has not been adopted yet, it is still considered active in the cycle. The Men's Basketball Issues Committee is expected to review the proposal at its next opportunity, and will consider the appropriate scope of the legislation.
- Adopted portions of Proposal No. 2009-98, including a requirement that the men's basketball schedule be approved by the faculty athletics representative or a faculty committee before the season and requiring men's basketball teams to return to campus within 24 hours after a competition. However, the Council defeated the portion of the proposal that would have restructured the preseason practice schedule and eliminated a game. The group also defeated a women's basketball proposal that would have eliminated a game from the season (No. 2009-78).
- Tabled all proposals that would form the structure of sand volleyball as an emerging sport. Tabling the proposals will allow for more time to build consensus around the playing and practice season, coaching structure and financial aid opportunities.
- Adopted proposals limiting transportation in the nonchampionship segment in several sports to ground transportation, unless there is no Division I institution within 400 miles.
- Defeated Proposal No. 2009-41, which would have eliminated printed media guides.
- Adopted Proposal No. 2009-42 after reconsideration. The proposal prohibits institutions from distributing printed media guides to recruits.
- Adopted Proposal No. 2009-32-B. Opposed by the student-athletes, this proposal deregulates phone calls during contact periods in sports with defined recruiting calendars (other than football).
- Adopted Proposal No. 2009-10. Designed to address concerns related to the employment of more experienced coaches in the graduate assistant category, the proposal requires graduate assistant coaches to have earned their first baccalaureate degree or exhausted athletics eligibility within the last seven years.
The Legislative Council's actions are not considered final until they pass review by the Division I Board of Directors. The Board meets April 29.
In other business, the Council upheld the Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee's interpretation that the effective date of Proposal No. 2009-31 – which requires institutions that publicly designate a head-coach-in-waiting to hold those coaches to the same recruiting restrictions as head coaches – does apply to institutions that had publicly designated head-coaches-in-waiting before the introduction of the proposal. Texas and Maryland, which have both publicly designated head-coaches-in-waiting, appealed the LRIC decision to the Council.