NCAA ought to rethink policies

Delaney Lovett

As many athletes know, the NCAA has a substantial amount of rules and regulations. Many of these are necessary measures, namely those that have to do with amateurism and drugs. The regulations that seem unnecessary and hinder many student-athletes are those dealing with academics; Division II of the NCAA (the one NMU belongs to) requires that once students reach junior standing, they must be progressing towards a single degree.

Each institution is responsible for interpreting what making progress toward degree means. At Northern, student athletes must have declared a major by the time they reach junior standing. From that third year and beyond, 12 credits must be completed each semester that advance them closer to that single baccalaureate or equivalent degree. They may only have a minor if that degree requires one.

This rule makes it nearly impossible for student athletes like me, who are interested in a double major or minor, to achieve the academic goals they set for themselves in their academic careers. I want to double major in English writing and biology, but I can only advance in one degree beginning next fall. As an athlete and a student, I should have the right to graduate once with two degrees.

Student-athlete members of the NCAA have a limited number of years of eligibility that they can participate in college athletics. The NCAA limits student-athletes to four seasons of competition within 10 semesters of full-time education. There is still the possibility of a redshirt, administered for medical, academic or other reasons, which means that an athlete does not participate in a competitive season and therefore retains the year of eligibility.

Since the limited years of eligibility prohibit a student from veering off the educational track in order to remain in college athletics longer than it would normally take to graduate, there shouldn’t be a requirement for student athletes to take a single academic route.

These requirements might make sense for Division I athletics which tend to be at both a higher athletic and scholarship level. This makes it more likely that student athletes are attending college perhaps as a transition between high school and professional sports and less for the education college provides. Division II, however, focuses on the balance between athletics and academics.

The progress-toward-degree policy is unsuitable for students with not only athletic goals, but also high academic goals. I believe this policy conflicts with one of the NCAA’s core values, “The pursuit of excellence in both academics and athletics,” and should be made more flexible for students who  have different paths in mind.