Part of the NCAA’s core mission is to provide student-athletes with a competitive environment that is safe and ensures fair play, so scientific research is paramount to ensuring our policies protect our student-athletes.
In the United States, sport offers a route into higher education for many individuals who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to further their academic careers. Moreover, the nation’s infrastructure for collegiate sports and athletics is such that interschool competition garners national attention from fans and the media alike.
More than a century ago, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was established to protect student-athletes from the dangerous and exploitative sporting practices of the period. Nowadays, the body is responsible for the organisation of college and university athletic programmes across the US and Canada, and remains committed to the ‘collegiate model of athletics in which students participate as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences’.1
Emily Potter, Assistant Director of Public and Media Relations at the NCAA, tells ScienceOmega.com
why academic and sporting excellence go hand-in-hand, and outlines how involvement in collegiate athletics can provide valuable experience that can be drawn on later in life…How do athletic and academic excellence supplement one another?
College sports add educational value to the mission of US colleges and universities. College athletics provide students invaluable learning opportunities, from leadership development to providing scholarships for students who may not have gone to college otherwise. Additionally, participation in sports enhances the sense of community and strengthens the identity of NCAA member schools.How does the NCAA help to prepare student-athletes for their careers, both sporting and otherwise, beyond college?
Being a student-athlete at an NCAA member school helps the student prepare for the real world. In the US, only a small percentage of NCAA student-athletes become professionals in their sports. The majority of student-athletes take the lessons learned both on the playing field and in the classroom to become successful in their chosen field of work.
Participation in collegiate sports teaches the student-athletes valuable lessons such as time management, leadership and service. In fact, according to a study on student-athlete experiences, the majority of former student-athletes say playing college sports prepared them for life after graduation. What, in your opinion, are some of the strengths unique to the US’ collegiate sporting system?
Approximately $2bn in athletically related financial aid is awarded each year by the NCAA and its member schools to more than 126,000 student-athletes. This commitment provides first generation college students and those who may not be able to afford higher education otherwise the opportunity to pursue and earn their college degree.
Using the US government’s Federal Graduation Rate, NCAA student-athletes are graduating from universities at a higher rate than the general student body. How valuable is the scientific research community in terms of facilitating sporting advancement?
Part of the NCAA’s core mission is to provide student-athletes with a competitive environment that is safe and ensures fair play, so scientific research is paramount to ensuring our policies protect our student-athletes. For example, NCAA plays a leading role in facilitating the study and prevention of concussions to protect student-athletes.
Additionally, the NCAA establishes safety guidelines, equipment standards and funds research into the cause of athletic injuries. By taking these proactive steps and teaming with the scientific research community, the NCAA helps safeguard our student-athletes’ wellbeing.What are the NCAA's main priorities for the coming year?
In August 2011, NCAA Division I university presidents attended a two-day summit organised by NCAA President Mark Emmert. At the conclusion of the meetings, the presidents called for bold, sweeping changes to improve collegiate athletics. It was determined that over the next year, newly formed NCAA working groups would focus on rewriting the NCAA rule book to focus on the most significant issues and to reflect the NCAA’s core values: improve academic standards for student-athletes; revamp the NCAA penalty structure and increase the levels of violations for those programmes that break rules; refocus the NCAA enforcement staff to concentrate on major rule violations; and strengthen academic requirements for incoming freshman and student-athletes who transfer from two-year colleges.
Since the conclusion of that summit, leaders have moved quickly to enact a standard to require academic success for access to postseason championships and have increased academic eligibility requirements for prospective student-athletes wanting to play sports at an NCAA school.
In the coming year, educating children, parents and educators about the new academic requirements to be eligible to play sports at an NCAA school will be paramount. Progress continues on rewriting the NCAA rulebook and rethinking the enforcement process.
All of the actions completed since the August 2011 summit and that will be completed as a result of that summit come as a means to refocus collegiate athletics on the NCAA’s values – integrity, sportsmanship and excellence in academics and athletics.1
‘Core Values’, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/about+the+ncaa/who+we+are/core+values+landing+page