For years, men’s basketball coaches have expressed their desire to have some time to work with their players during the summer.
Until this year, the NCAA had only allowed student-athletes to work with their team’s strength and conditioning coaches during the summer and only while enrolled in summer school. Many players take summer classes in an effort to stay on track to graduate.
But a new provision passed in January allows men’s basketball coaching staffs to work with their players for two hours a week in addition to the usual six hours of weight training during the summer — as long as the players are on track to graduate or taking summer school courses.
For the past month, the men’s teams at Kent State and Akron have taken advantage of the new rules.
“For the last five or six years, it’s always been something the men’s coaches have wanted,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “The thought process is twofold. First, if we want to be around our kids to help them get better, why wouldn’t we do that year-round? Secondly, we’re here during the summer and our kids are here during summer; as long as they’re in class, isn’t it a good time for them to get better and work on their games with us involved in the process?”
The timing of the new rules could go a long way in aiding a young Golden Flashes team, one expected to feature seven new players between the incoming freshmen and two junior college players added to the team.
“The advantage I expect to see the most is with the freshmen and transfers,” Senderoff said. “Like learning to fight through the fatigue for the freshmen and some of the different skill stuff that the transfers will learn in terms of how we do things compared to how it was done where they came from. I feel that having gotten these workouts in will help us hit the ground running a little bit better in the fall when we have everyone here.”
On paper, the added summer time might not seem to be as much a benefit for Akron, which will field a more veteran team next season. Still, UA coach Keith Dambrot sees the rule change as beneficial.
“Before, we couldn’t do any basketball work,” he said. “So I think it’s good to be able to have a little bit more contact with the guys. We haven’t done that much other than monitored just how hard they’ve played. We probably did less than most people because I think it’s such a long year that if you do too much it becomes drudgery.”
The rule changes affect only men’s basketball teams, but there is a possibility that women’s basketball will follow suit in a year or so.
“The last four to six years there’s been the feeling that if RPI [Ratings Percentage Index, which is a quantity used to rank sports teams based on wins and losses and strength of schedule] is going to impact our livelihood as much as it is, then we need to have more access to our current student-athletes and earlier access to our new student-athletes,” said new Kent State coach Danielle O’Banion, who said that women’s coaches were solicited for feedback on the matter at their annual convention during the Final Four. “They wanted to know if it’s something that we believe will work out with our players.”
O’Banion, well-versed in NCAA legislation and trends thanks in part to her additional role as the president of the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA), kept her explanation in simple terms when detailing why the new summer access rule doesn’t yet apply to women’s basketball.
“The NCAA is the boss of all us,” she said. “However, the NABC, which is the men’s National Association of Basketball Coaches, and the WBCA, which is the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, are the driving forces behind legislative changes for their respective sports.
“In terms of legislation that impacts the wealthier or [more mainstream] sports, if it’s something revolutionary, it tends to start with football. Then if the trend can be applied to the rest of the sports, the cycle tends to be that men’s basketball is usually the guinea pig and then women’s basketball is typically affected a year or so afterwards before moving down to all sports eventually.”
O’Banion is content to take a wait-and-see approach on whether summer access is necessary for the women’s game.
“I can see both sides, but when you think about it, summertime is the time for our student-athletes to have summer internships or time for them to do their own thing,” she said. “So if you have structured and required workouts, then it takes away those other opportunities.
“Right now, I probably would lean towards having very limited access. I believe our student-athletes are motivated enough to take the summer workout manual that details what they need to do and be responsible for their own development.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.