NORMAN — Major college football coaches can now require players to participate in eight hours per week of conditioning, weight training and film study during the summer.
Participation in summer workouts was previously supposed to be voluntary, although just how voluntary has long been questioned. Under recently amended NCAA bylaws, members of the coaching staff can now supervise the mandatory summer workouts themselves, whereas before, they weren’t allowed any contact with players during the summer months, and any lack of participation by players wasn’t supposed to be punishable.
“As plain Jane as I can put it, we all knew that in the summer time, you’re gonna take six college hours (of classes), and you’re gonna go through eight weeks of summer (training),” said former OU fullback J.D. Runnels. “There’s not even talk of what’s voluntary and what’s mandatory. There’s not.
“The summer workouts with Jerry Schmidt are the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my entire life. Adding in Cale Gundy and some of those other guys … it’s gonna turn into a job.”
At a time when player compensation — and possible unionization — has been at the forefront of the national discussion regarding college sports, the amended NCAA rules only add more fuel for those who question the “amateur” status of big-time college athletes.
Two years ago, the NCAA began allowing men’s basketball coaches to have similar access to their players during the summer, and the women’s game followed suit in 2013.
Basketball coaches are allowed eight hours per week with their players during the summer, with a maximum of two hours for on-court, basketball skills training. The football amendment replaces the sport-specific physical activities with film study.