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Friday, June 14, 2024

Why NCAA D-I Athletes No Longer Get Election Day Off

  • In-season athletes may not get Election day off due to a reversal of a 2020 NCAA rule.
  • Teams are now only required to give athletes a day off within 30 days of Nov. 8.
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN

At the request of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the NCAA passed legislation in 2020 to make it easier for athletes to vote on Election Day: Teams were mandated to give them the day off from games and practices. 

But this year, in-season athletes are no longer guaranteed the day off. As a result, athletes across the country will be practicing or playing on Tuesday — about 40 D-I basketball teams alone are tipping off their seasons. 

Over the past two years, the governing body has relaxed those restrictions because the athlete committee itself has changed its tune. 

The loosening of the rule began in 2021, when the D-I SAAC reportedly offered up to 15 waivers for schools and conferences to play on Election Day — for various reasons. While some were used for previously scheduled postseason games, others were simply for basketball and football practice.

In June, the NCAA rolled back the rule even further. 

  • Now, only offseason teams are required to take off on Nov. 8. 
  • In-season teams are only mandated to provide a day off for “civic engagement” activities in the 15 days before or after Election Day.

It’s unclear whether the rule change significantly impacts athletes’ ability to vote. While making it to the polls can be a major logistical challenge, many athletes vote early or absentee, due to the fact that they’re registered out of state.

Still, the rule relaxation goes against pro leagues like the NBA, which will not play any games on Tuesday.

This year, the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has gone in the opposite direction, pushing for the entire division to get the day off for the first time.

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