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Published 01/20/2017
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University of Miami Student-Athletes to Benefit from Reforms Enacted Today by Autonomy Five Conferences

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami students who participate in athletics will soon see changes to their schedule, giving them, in most cases, at least an additional 21 days away from athletics so they can study, pursue an internship, or get additional rest and recovery. 

The changes result from a vote taken today at the annual NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tenn., by a group of fellow student representatives and administrators of the Autonomy Five conferences. The purpose of these reforms is to enhance the student experience so these individuals can spend more time engaging in non-athletic activities on campus. 

“Our goal at Miami has always been to help our students be successful in college and in life,” Director of Athletics Blake James said. “By adopting these reforms, we are helping our students compete in the sport they love, while giving them more time to pursue other endeavors at UM. I know how hard our students work to balance academics and athletics and these changes will give them a greater opportunity to do that.” 

The changes, known as “Flex 21” will give these students, in most cases, at least an additional 21 days in which they are free from required athletic activities during the academic year. Flex 21 days are in addition to current rules related to time off. 

Recognizing that every sport has different needs, the proposal includes flexibility so coaches, students and athletic directors can develop an appropriate student-athlete time management plan that best suits each sport. The changes are the result of in-person meetings and survey feedback from students, head coaches, faculty and athletics administrators. 

"I believe this legislation will provide for a more balanced lifestyle and increase the success of student athletes on the field, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Hurricanes men’s tennis student-athlete Kevin Bondar, who also serves as Miami’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President. 

“This legislation will serve as a platform for student-athletes to collaborate with coaches in distributing days off whether it be during finals or for much needed rest to create a stable schedule,” said SAAC Vice President Phallon Tullis-Joyce, who is a member of UM’s soccer team. “Flex 21 has the ability to allow student-athletes to play the sport they love, while having time to recuperate or catch up on academic responsibilities.” 

The changes apply to four time periods: 

Post Season: Under the plan, all students would be free of required athletic activities for at least one week (seven consecutive days) at the conclusion of their season in order to provide additional rest and recovery. Exceptions would exist for students participating in elite national/international events. For spring teams that end their season in summer break, the seven-day period is not necessary as the summer break would accomplish the goal of this requirement – recovery directly after the season. 

Academic Year: To allow students to engage in other collegiate activities, each student would be provided at least 14 additional days during the academic year during which there would be no required athletic activity. These days-off may take place either during the playing season, or outside the playing season when classes are in session. 

In Season: Beyond Flex 21, every student playing a sport will have at least one day a week free from sports, including travel, during the season. While current rules require one day off per week, teams may currently use travel days to meet that requirement. The new proposal would recognize that individual circumstances may require a flexible approach in the application of this proposal, but is intended to provide these students with more time away from athletic activities (e.g., travel delays, etc.). 

Overnight: In addition, students would have a consecutive eight-hour block of free time overnight, between the hours of 9:00pm and 6:00am. 

To implement the proposed changes and to assist these students in managing their time, head coaches and athletic directors will be required to develop a time management plan that would provide adequate notice of all scheduled athletic activities as well as any subsequent changes to that schedule. Further, the plan must also provide an opportunity for these students to collaborate with their coaches in scheduling such required athletic activities. The definition of “required athletic activities” is intended to be broader than the current definition of countable hours which includes activities such as practice, games, and conditioning. For example, this expanded definition would include, but not be limited to activities such as media requirements and mandatory community service. 

The five autonomy conferences that voted to change the time balance requirements are the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC.