New proposal pushes NCAA to change credit hour requirement for athletes

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UNC Journalism school professor Steven King and and Offensive Line coach Ryan McKee have drafted a proposal suggesting that student athletes take 6 credit hours of courses instead of 12. McKee believes that once non practice time is included, being a student athlete is "more than a full time job". To their knowledge, this proposal is the first of its kind.

But Ryan McKee , an offensive assistant coach for UNC’s football team, and Steven King , a journalism professor, think they have a gameplan.

The two have proposed reducing the NCAA’s minimum hour requirement for full-time students from 12 hours a semester to just six during their sport’s season, and nine in the offseason, for their four years of athletic eligibility. The proposal would allow students another two years to earn their degree as full-time students.

King said UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has not yet sent the proposal to the NCAA, but King hopes the plan would be adopted by universities around the country.

“We’re trying to expand it to other schools,” he said. “Ultimately we hope to open the conversation up.”

The plan, which McKee and King call onField inField, is meant to give students more time to excel both athletically and academically. Under onField inField, a fall athlete could take six hours every fall and nine hours every spring for four years, then take a full fifteen hours for four more semesters to reach UNC’s required 120 to graduate.

Adopting the proposal would cost UNC approximately $10,000 to $12,000 per scholarship athlete for room and board if they stay on campus for an extra two years, according to the web site . Tuition costs would decrease, as students would pay less for taking less than 12 hours.

“It’s a small amount to pay for giving them a degree,” King said, adding that alumni might also be more inclined to donate to UNC if they feel the school better prepared student-athletes to excel in their academic field.

King said he and McKee have brought the idea to UNC football players, who King said generally supported it as long as their scholarships would cover the extra two years.

Freshman wide receiver Bug Howard hadn’t previously heard of the plan but said it could ease his workload during the season.

“It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “It just won’t be as stressful.”

The plan might allow athletes to take more classes that require a lot of outside work or long-term projects, said King, who teaches a multimedia course.

King said the idea for the proposal came from a realization that athletes spending about 40 hours a week practicing with and playing for their teams wouldn’t have time for the projects he assigns.

“There’s no way that a student with those kind of restraints could pass my class,” he said, adding that few athletes even enroll because they know the required outside work.

“I think it’s really difficult for us to expect greatness in both areas when they have two full-time jobs,” he said.

Anthropology professor Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld says student-athletes from a variety of sports take most of his classes but steer clear of one: "Artisans and Global Culture."

He said the course requires extended field work.

“I think it would be incredibly difficult for a student-athlete to handle it,” Colloredo-Mansfeld said.

Howard said when he picks classes he looks to avoid those that require many long writing assignments.

“I try to stay away from writing classes. It’s a lot after practice, knowing you got a five-page paper when you just want to go and get some rest,” he said.

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