NCAA Allows Elite Funding For Athletes & Works On Expanding Sexual Violence Policy

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Elite swimmers, water polo players, divers and other athletes can now race in NCAA competition and be official members of college teams while being paid for training expenses by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and other national governing bodies such as domestic federations.

The NCAA Division I Council adopted the legislation Wednesday at the NCAA convention. It is effective immediately. In addition, the NCAA Board of Governors announced that it is working on expanding the NCAA‘s sexual violence policy.

The funding decision not only means that Americans can accept funding from federations while in college and racing in NCAA competition but allows the many foreign swimmers who train and race at college in the United States to accept funding from their home governing organisations.

Previously, the likes of British internationals such as Gators Gemma Spofforth and Mark Szarenek, among many others from many countries, were ineligible to receive funding from their domestic federations, such as British Swimming and Scottish Swimming.

The freedom to accept funding that the new NCAA rule affords does not alone guarantee that all foreign swimmers at college in the United States will receive funding from home: domestic policies in some countries dictate that only swimmer who stay in home programs, including excellence centres, are eligible for financial subsidies.

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Action at the 2019 NCAA DI Women’s Championship – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

As Associated Press notes in its report on the NCAA decision, “Previously, college athletes could compromise their eligibility to compete for their schools by accepting some benefits that are provided to potential Olympians.”

Under the new legislation, athletes designated elite by official organisations from Olympic level down to domestic niche-sport federations, can accept travel expenses being paid for parents, coaches and other support staff.

The new rules will also allow athletes to spend more time working with their college coaches without breaking NCAA rules regarding practice limits.

NCAA Sexual Violence Review

The NCAA Board of Governors provided no details at this stage but is working on expanding the NCAA‘s sexual violence policy beyond its current focus  on education in sexual violence prevention of athletes, coaches and administrators.

The AP reported:

There have been calls from some victims’ advocacy groups for the NCAA to ban from competition individuals who have faced legal charges or discipline for committing acts of sexual violence. NCAA member institutions have resisted stepping into that area in part because laws defining sexual violence vary from state to state.

Ohio State University President Michael Drake, chairman of the Board of Governors, said a special meeting would be scheduled for the upcoming weeks to craft a policy.

“This has been active area of discussion for us over these last several months and years,” Drake said.