Shots off-the-whistle: Newly-active legislation

By Britt Malinsky, with contributions from Jason Greco

Note: One group of legislation, referred to as Autonomy Legislation, is voted on by the 65 programs who are members of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC, and applies to them, and any other Division I school who chooses to adopt some or all of those rules (I’ll list the schools they apply to, among those that sponsor wrestling, at the bottom of this story). Other legislation, which is referred to as Legislative Council Legislation, applies to everybody, from Ohio State and Penn State to Davidson and Sacred Heart. Other than the application of who the rules apply to, the route those proposals took to get to passage is different for each new set of legislation. The proposal number has been listed to make it easier to identify the rules, and all autonomy legislation is listed first.


Autonomy Proposal 2016-130:

Intent: To specify that institutional financial aid awarded to an enrolled student-athlete after the first day of classes in any term may be made retroactive to the beginning of that academic year.

Rationale: This proposal seeks to provide institutions greater discretion in awarding financial aid. Currently, an institution must prorate a student-athlete’s financial aid if it is awarded after the standard period of the award begins. This means that, even if a sport has aid available within its team limit, a student-athlete is not be permitted to receive an amount that a coach desires to provide simply because of the date when the award is provided. Due to recent deregulation, an institution is allowed to increase an athletics aid award at any time, including for athletics reasons. Additionally, institutions are permitted to retroactively award students (other than student-athletes) with scholarships, loans and grants to the beginning of the academic year. Therefore, if a student-athlete is awarded athletics aid at any point in an academic year, institutions should be permitted to provide the aid to them retroactively, if necessary, for the academic year in question. Finally, this proposal does not increase the overall amount of aid that may be provided to a student-athlete or a team and, therefore, does not have an overall budget impact. It simply affords the opportunity to provide aid to cover a student-athlete’s attendance for the entire academic year regardless of when the financial aid agreement is signed.

Interpretation: Financial Aid must be awarded to and signed by the student-athlete by the day of the institution’s spring commencement. Also, student-athletes who are provided retroactive aid will be placed in the institution’s APR cohort for that academic year/semester, and this legislation also applies to summer.


Autonomy Proposal 2016-133:

Intent: To permit an institution, conference or the NCAA to provide reasonable entertainment to student-athletes during the playing season, outside the playing season during the academic year when classes are in session and during the period in which they are required to participate in required summer athletic activities.

Rationale: This proposal allows institutions the discretion to provide student-athletes with entertainment during or outside of the playing season. Currently, institutions are only permitted to provide entertainment to their student-athletes in conjunction with practice or competition. There are many legitimate entertainment experiences that coaches/administrators may wish to provide to their student-athletes at times other than those that occur in conjunction with practice or competition. This permissive legislation will afford institutions with the flexibility to do so if they deem it appropriate.

Interpretation: This time frame includes the playing season and outside the playing season during the academic year when classes are in session. Also, student-athletes may not miss class time, and entertainment is permissible on a “day off” during the academic year, as long as it is not required by an institutional staff member.


Autonomy Proposal 2016-136:

Intent: To specify that required athletically related activities shall be prohibited for a seven-day period beginning the day after a student-athlete’s or a team’s last contest of the championship segment; further, to specify that an institution shall provide a student-athlete with 14 additional days off during or outside the playing and practice season during the regular academic year when classes are in session.

Rationale: This proposal is designed to assist national efforts to enhance the overall student-athlete experience and student-athlete well being by providing student-athletes with additional flexibility within their personal schedules that can be utilized at their discretion. During a sport’s playing season, student-athletes are allowed to devote up to twenty hours to their athletic training and competition each week, not including time spent traveling to and from away-from-home competitions. The competition schedule often causes student-athletes to miss class and, in some instances, fall behind on class assignments. The implementation of a seven-day discretionary period following the conclusion of the championship segment will provide student-athletes with an opportunity to fully engage with their academic obligations as well as become more involved in non-athletic pursuits directly after the season ends. While student-athletes will continue to have the opportunity to participate in voluntary workouts, they should not be asked to adhere to a required countable athletically related activity schedule during this time. Additionally, student-athletes will be provided with fourteen additional days off during the declared playing season and/or outside of the playing season during the regular academic year when classes are in session to assist them in their pursuit of academic endeavors and social obligations. Institutional rules education and monitoring should be sufficient to ensure that student-athletes are provided with these twenty-one additional days off.

Interpretation: Countable Athletically Related Activities (CARA, consisting of practice, competition, strength & conditioning, and required team meetings/film review) has not changed, and the allowable limits (8 hours a week with two days off out-of-season, 20 hours a week with one day off in-season) have not changed. However, there is now a second layer of that, namely Required Athletically Related Activities (RARA), which consists of all CARA, plus compliance meetings, organized team promotional activities, recruiting activities, including student-host activities, media activities, fundraising events, community service events, team-building activities, and travel to and from away-from-home competition, that is under such an umbrella. Health & medical activities, academically-related activities, voluntary athletic activities, or life-skills activities involving multiple sports, organized by the athletic department, do not fall under either umbrella. Neither CARA nor RARA is permissible during a required day off, with the exception of travel home from away-from-campus competition that arrives back on campus prior to 5:00 AM.

Further, each student-athlete is required to have a fixed seven days off from all RARA immediately after the end of the championship segment of the season (ie. the week after NCAA’s), with the exception of multi-sport student-athletes, at the request of student-athletes who have qualified for elite national or international competitions, one-on-one meetings with coaches, provided no CARA occurs, safety exceptions, voluntary activities, academically-related activities, health and safety activities, and service on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Additionally, each student-athlete must have 14 additional days off on top of those, which has to either be in-season, during the academic year when classes are in session, or both. These 14 days do not have to be consecutive, and can be allocated as the coach wishes, as long as they meet one of the above criteria.

Additionally, RARA (other than competition and associated activities) may not occur during a continuous eight-hour period that has to be contained within the hours of 9 PM and 6 AM, with the exceptions of rehab, sports med, medical appointments, drug testing, mental health evaluations or treatments, academic-related activities, team building/team entertainment activities developed as part of the time-management plan, compliance meetings related to waivers, reinstatement cases, or investigations, or recruiting activities including student host duties. An exception to this is when a student-athlete is officially released from post-competition duties after 9 PM, in which case the 8-hour clock begins when the athlete is officially released.

Student-athletes will have all of this developed as part of a collaborative process between the student-athlete, coaches, senior staff as part of a time management plan, which must be executed, in writing, prior to the earlier of the first day of classes or any RARA, so student-athletes are provided adequate notice of all RARA. Student-athletes must be provided with adequate notice of changes to the previously-established schedule for both CARA and RARA, and this will be reviewed annually with the Athletic Director, Faculty-Athletics Representative, head coach, and at least one student-athlete, with results and conclusions provided to the Chancellor (or equivalent position) of the institution.


Proposal 2016-27:

Intent: In wrestling, to specify that: (1) Off-campus recruiting contacts shall not be made with an individual (or his relatives or legal guardians) before September 1 at the beginning of his junior year in high school and that contacts that occur during a prospective student-athlete’s junior year may occur only at the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution or residence; and (2) An unofficial visit with athletics department involvement shall not occur with an individual (or his relatives or legal guardians) before September 1 at the beginning of his junior year in high school.

Rationale: Currently there is no restriction on when unofficial visits with athletics department involvement may begin to occur. This proposal simplifies the legislation by making the start date for off-campus contacts and unofficial visits consistent with the start date that is already in place for telephone calls and recruiting materials and electronic correspondence. This proposal will help address the issue of early recruiting in wrestling.

Interpretation: Athletics department involvement includes, but is not limited to, contact with athletics department staff, an athletics-specific tour, or complimentary admissions to events.


Proposal 2016-28:

Intent: To permit on-campus contact between a former student-athlete and a prospective student-athlete, his or her relatives (traditional or nontraditional) or legal guardians and/or other individuals accompanying the prospective student-athlete.

Rationale: Similar to the provision that allows for contact between the families of enrolled student-athletes and prospective student-athletes and their families, this proposal allows former student-athletes to engage in recruiting contact on the campus of the institution. Former student-athletes are some of the best suited individuals to share their personal experiences with prospective student-athletes to help them make informed decisions. In addition, the current prohibition on allowing former student-athletes and prospective student-athletes to interact creates frequent uncomfortable situations on campus, especially during home competitions.

Interpretation: Contact may only occur on the institution’s campus or a regular home facility located off-campus. Also, recruiting conversations may occur between the former student-athlete and prospect, the institution may arrange the contact, the athletics department may not pay expenses to bring a former student-athlete to campus to meet a prospect, and during an official or unofficial visit, a former student-athlete may participate in recreation activities with the prospect as long as the activities are not organized or directed by the coaching staff, and the former student-athlete does not report back to the coaching staff regarding the prospect’s participation.


Proposal 2016-31:

Intent: To permit a noncoaching staff member or coach who does not count toward the numerical limitations on head and assistant coaches to make unlimited telephone calls to a prospective student-athlete during the five days immediately preceding the prospective student-athlete’s official visit.

Rationale: Permitting any athletics staff member to make unlimited telephone calls to a prospective student-athlete five-days prior to his or her official visit would promote increased efficiency in the official visit process. For example, academics personnel or any other individual in the athletics department would be permitted to make unlimited calls about necessary documentation (e.g., transcripts, enrolled classes, etc.) prior to the official visit so that the institution can be fully prepared.

Interpretation: Staff members (coaching, non-coaching sport-specific staff members, ADs, etc.) may make unlimited telephone calls to a prospect and those accompanying the prospect, during the five days immediately preceding the official visit and during the official visit. Those telephone calls ARE NOT required to be about the logistics of the visit, and those calls are not considered violations if the trip is cancelled by the prospect, or due to an act of god. However, the institution shall submit a report to their conference office noting the cancellation of the official visit and the reasons behind such cancellation.


Proposal 2016-32:

Intent: To specify that an athletics department staff member may make telephone calls and send electronic correspondence to a prospective student-athlete or those individuals accompanying the prospective student-athlete beginning the day immediately preceding the prospective student-athlete’s unofficial visit until the conclusion of the visit.

Rationale: In many cases of unofficial visits, the prospective student-athlete may not be familiar with the locale of the institution, resulting in confusion concerning meeting locations or delay in arrival. Allowing telephone and electronic communication with an athletic department staff member will prevent any unnecessary concern by the prospective student-athlete (or the individuals accompanying the prospective student-athlete) during travel to the institution’s campus. Providing additional flexibility to permit any athletics department staff member to make or receive telephone calls during this specified time period will permit institutions to be more responsive to the needs of prospective student-athletes while on unofficial visits or while in transit for such visits.

Interpretation: Same as with 2016-31, but for unofficial visits, the time period is now one day, instead of five.


Proposal 2016-33:

Intent: To specify that evaluations that occur September 1 through May 31 shall count against the permissible number of recruiting opportunities (except for evaluations that occur on the same day as a permissible contact) and that evaluations that occur June 1 through August 31 shall not count.

Rationale: Current legislation states that outside the academic year, evaluations do not count against the annual number of permissible recruiting opportunities. The “academic year” refers to the prospective student-athlete’s academic year. The application of this rule is difficult to monitor due to the varying dates of each prospective student-athlete’s academic year. In instances in which prospective student-athletes from multiple educational institutions are participating in the same event, evaluations may count for some but not for others. In situations in which prospective student-athletes participating on the same team are from different educational institutions, one may still be completing his or her academic year while another may be finished. For consistency and effective monitoring, evaluations that occur from June 1 through August 31 should not count against the annual number of recruiting opportunities.

Interpretation: This only applies to evaluations during the June 1 through August 31 time period; contacts from June 1 through August 31 will continue to count. Coaching staffs have seven combined contacts and evaluations per prospective student-athlete per year (Junior and Senior years), with no more than three of those recruiting opportunities allowed to be contacts.


Proposal 2016-45:

Intent: To permit in-person, off-campus contact between an institutional staff member and a prospective student-athlete or an enrolled student-athlete (or other student) and a prospective student-athlete to occur during an unofficial visit at a noninstitutional facility within one mile of campus boundaries.

Rationale: Current legislation generally restricts contact during unofficial visits to on-campus locations. The reality is that areas adjacent to and within the immediate vicinity of the institution’s campus (generally within walking distance) are as much a part of the campus community and student experience as the actual facilities, dorms and classrooms on institutionally-owned property. This proposal would provide coaches, staff and enrolled student-athletes an appropriate level of flexibility when touring campus and also provides prospective student-athletes a more accurate representation of campus life and the student experience at the institution. Finally, assigning a specific distance from campus boundaries provides a consistent standard and greater probability that the rule will be enforceable.

Interpretation: The one-mile limit is determined by a straight line from the outermost boundary on the institution’s main campus as the crow flies. Staff may provide transportation to the prospect to a location within that one-mile radius. It is the institution’s discretion to determine what is considered “main campus”.


Proposal 2016-76:

Intent: To reduce, from six to three, the number of credit hours in which a prospective student-athlete is required to enroll in order to receive athletically related financial aid to attend an institution’s summer term prior to the prospective student’s initial, full-time enrollment at the certifying institution.

Rationale: With the adoption of Proposal Nos. 2015-73, 2015-74-FBS and 2015-74-FCS, a student-athlete (or a prospective student-athlete before initial summer school attendance) who is enrolled in at least three degree-applicable credit hours in one summer term that is fewer than eight weeks in duration is now permitted to engage in required weight-training, conditioning and skill-related instruction for up to eight weeks during the summer vacation period. Reducing the six-hour requirement to three hours will align the financial aid legislation with the summer conditioning legislation, facilitate the application of the legislation and result in a reduction of summer tuition costs. As this is permissive legislation, institutions wishing to enroll their incoming prospective student-athletes in more than three hours could continue to do so.

Interpretation: This applies to both incoming freshmen and transfers.


New Regional Training Center criteria:


International athletes/coaches who currently represent a country other than the United States may attend a Regional Training Center (RTC) on a limited basis based on approval of both USAWrestling and the RTC. These Individuals must be of similar competitive caliber, and may attend on an intermittent basis in order to enhance U.S. National Team development.

A prospective student-athlete that has graduated from high school and is taking a year off before matriculating to college may practice during the traditional folkstyle season with an RTC.

Once a prospective student-athlete has signed a National Letter of Intent, the 250-mile radius rule no longer applies, and that prospective student-athlete may attend the RTC of their choice.


Schools covered under autonomy legislation that also sponsor wrestling: Arizona State, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Stanford, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.


Britt Malinsky is the editor-in-chief of WrestlingbyPirate, and can be reached on Twitter at @WrestlingSHP. Jason Greco is the Compliance Director at North Carolina State University. In addition to overseeing wrestling, he also oversees men’s soccer, rifle, volleyball, and women’s golf. He can be reached at