New NCAA policies will impact Dartmouth student athletes

by Katie Jarrett | 8/8/14 9:34am

As incoming student-athletes walk across campus to their initial compliance meetings at the College, they may need to set aside more time to acquaint themselves with NCAA regulations than their predecessors did in previous years. With new NCAA policies coming into effect in August — including policies on recruiting, meals, coaching certifications and penalties for street drugs — and turnover in some Big Green coaching staffs, first-year student-athletes will have to think through more than just finding their classrooms and learning “Dartspeak.”

In January and April, the NCAA announced updated policies for the rest of 2014. In many cases, NCAA schools pushed for these policies, the College’s assistant athletic director for compliance Jake Munick said. The changes will tell incoming and current student-athletes that the NCAA is adapting to and becoming more in touch with athletes’ current needs, he said, with the goal of protecting them.

One new policy, announced in June and since placed on hold, would change recruiting regulations, allowing coaches to text recruits and contact some high school student-athletes earlier in the process.

The new policy on contacts will accelerate the recruiting process, Munick said.Duncan Robinson ’16, a Big Green pitcher, said that he believes the new policy will allow coaches and student-athletes to build better relationships, enabling coaches to present their schools more often to athletes. This will give athletes more time to consider their options before committing to a school, he said.

“A lot of athletes who come to Dartmouth aren’t from the Northeast and aren’t that familiar with the school,” he said. “I think that if coaches have more time to tell them the benefits and plus sides of coming to a school like Dartmouth, it will bring more athletes and better athletes to the school.”

In April, the NCAA announced changes to regulations concerning drug testing and food. Under the updated rules, schools and coaches will be allowed to provide student-athletes with unlimited meals, a stark change from previous regulations that allowed coaches to provide only bagels, nuts and fruits at NCAA-allotted times with additional restricted budgets for travel meals and snacks.

Kaira Lujan ’16, the Big Green’s middle blocker, said that she is very happy with the new meal policy.

“I am 100 percent behind providing unlimited meals because as an athlete, it is a struggle if you have practice that overlaps,” she said. “In the past, we have had required athletic activity that overlapped with the whole dinner swipe period, which caused problems for freshman who are required to be on the 20 and then had to use the late night swipe which is much less for a recovery meal.”

Institutional discretion will be particularly important in regard to this rule, Munick said, as each school will have to decide what to provide and when. He said he believes that Dartmouth Peak Performance and the athletic department’s nutritionist Claudette Peck will lead the decision-making process at the College.

While previously, any student-athlete who failed a drug test received a 365-day suspension, the new policy loosens the restrictions. If an athlete is caught using a street drug ­— a non-performance enhancing drug sold illegally and used for mood-altering or sedative impact ­­— the recommended suspension will be a minimum of half of a season.

Dalyn Williams ’16, the Big Green’s starting quarterback, said he does not think this policy will be a positive change. Lesser consequences for drug use may lead to increased usage among student-athletes, he said.

Other changes will focus on safety. During any mandatory activity, whether it is a practice, game, lift or other event, the NCAA will now require the presence of a CPR- and AED-certified staff member. Under the new policy, coaches who have completed a national strength and conditioning certification program must be the ones to conduct any extra-strength and conditioning workout.

Colleges must determine who in their athletic departments needs to achieve the certification, Munick said. To allow schools time to adapt, the rule will not go into effect until August 1, 2015.

More changes may be in the works as notable athletic conferences — including the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — continue to talk to the association. These conferences, the so-called “Big Five,” have often challenged the NCAA on regulations for scholarships, eligibility and academic requirements.

Munick said he does not believe that these negotiations will impact Dartmouth. The Ivy League, he said, tends to look at its student-athlete’s academic and service commitments in addition to their on-field performance.

“I’m not here saying that student athletes at the power conferences ­— the Big Five — aren’t well-rounded, and I’m not saying that they only care about athletics,” Munick said. “What I am saying is that we have a proven track record that we care more about everything ... We will probably stay the way we are forever because it just works as the Ivy League.”

In addition to new NCAA policies, men’s lacrosse, men’s heavyweight crew, softball and women’s crew will see new head coaches.

Lacrosse goalie Blair Friedensohn ’16 said that starting with a new coaching staff will particularly help incoming freshman as they will be on the same level as upperclassmen in learning new tactical systems and building relationships with their coach.

Softball player Kelsey Miller ’16 said that the team’s workout sessions haven’t seen much change despite both their head coach and assistant coach departing to Stanford University.

“We were a little shocked at first, but obviously it is a great opportunity for Coach Hanson, and we are very happy and proud of her,” she said.