Kent State vital in the creation of new MAC time obligations

Henry Palattella

The 2017-2018 season will usher in a new era in collegiate athletics, thanks to Kent State and the rest of the Mid-American Conference.

The MAC and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee have adopted four new-time obligation proposals, to be implemented at the start of the 2017 season. The proposals are all centered around giving student-athletes more time to be students, both in and out of their respective season.

“This all started a couple years back, when the NCAA restructured their board of directors and they had student-athletes come onto the board of directors and start to have that voice,” said Greg Glaus, Kent State’s associate athletic director. “That’s kind of the beginning of this culmination of what we’re seeing at the MAC and nationally with the ‘Power Five’ conferences.”

Glaus, who oversees NCAA compliance rules and student-athlete service, spoke highly of the final proposals.

“In my role, some of the areas that I oversee speak to the student-athletes directly,” Glaus said. “The time demands from the MAC actually came from the SAAC. They created a white paper and really analyzed what are we are we doing as student-athletes. It goes well beyond x’s and o’s.”

One of those voices is senior soccer star Abbie Lawson, who was Kent State’s representative on the SAAC, which consists of 26 students across the 12 MAC schools.

“Just as a whole, it was kind of cool to see how student-athletes were being heard by the administrators, and they actually took (what we said) into consideration because it’s been passed,” Lawson said. “I think that speaks volumes for both parties, one the student-athletes being able to speak up, and then the administrators to actually take our opinions into account.”

These proposals came about when the SAAC shared a white paper document with the MAC governing committee during the MAC spring meetings, which were from May 31 to June 2.

The white paper consisted of personal perspectives and opinions from the student-athletes involved so that they could show the governing committee their concerns about the schedule of a student-athlete, as well as potential solutions.

“I think over time there’s been a shift in making sure that there is a lot of emphasis put on the student athlete’s well-being, so this is definitely a step in that direction,” Lawson said. “I think a lot of the time those … not involved in athletics don’t understand how much time goes into being a student-athlete. It’s not just on the field or on the court, there’s so much more that goes into it.”

The first proposal says that all student-athletes now have a required two-week time off period from athletics following the end of their championship season, a rule that Lawson was very excited to see implemented.

“You need time,” Lawson said. “Not only for your body, but for your mind.”

The second proposal says that any student-athlete who is out of season at the beginning of a semester has to have a week off with no athletic obligations.

The third proposal bans any athletic obligations for eight hours after the end of a trip.

“My coaches are very good about all this stuff, so I don’t think those … affect me or my team as much,” Lawson said. “But I’ve definitely talked to people from here and other schools where that will really help them out because they get back at 2 a.m. and then have an 8 a.m. life. That’s only a six-hour turnaround.”

The fourth and final proposal also deals with students who are in season, as it requires all practice schedules to be available to student-athletes weekly, and that the athletes must be notified of a change 24 hours in advance.

“This shows the initiative of the student-athlete, which is great,” Glaus said. “They’re passionate and a bunch of bright young students, but they want to have some kind of balance in their life too.

“Trying to really analyze that, I think the things (they) brought forward really are a step in the right direction in creating some of that balance. I think that the student-athletes are excited about having that voice.”

These proposals are different from the Flex21 plan that the “Power Five” conferences are enacting. They have some similarities, as both require student-athletes to have the eight-hour break time after travel, as well as the seven-day postseason recovery time.

Flex21 differs in that it now does not count student-athletes travel days as a day off, It also gives the student-athletes 14 additional days off, which they can use either in season or out of season.

“I think it’s a really exciting time in college athletics,” Glaus said. “Student-athletes are being heard; we’re making progress.”

Lawson was very excited that she was able to make life easier for her current teammates and future MAC student-athletes.

“I think once you step into a program like the one I’ve stepped into, it’s a family,” she said. “We have a lot of relations wth alumni so knowing that I’ll be an alumni that had an affect on teammates is kinda cool.”

Henry Palattella is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].