NCAA gives day off to all Division I student-athletes for Election Day


Access to voting has become a major cause in the sports world, and now the NCAA is making its own move.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it is forcing every Division I program to give its student athletes the day off on Election Day going forward, starting with Nov. 3 this year. No Division I program will be able to hold practices or competitions on that day.

The NCAA’s Division I Council approved the new rule at its meeting on Wednesday, among other major decisions.

The intent here is obvious: Make it as easy as possible for the NCAA’s athletes — of which there 170,000 in Division I, by the NCAA’s count — to vote preventing their athletic obligations from getting in the way. The “student” side of the student-athletes could still remain an obstacle, but there’s a growing trend for colleges to make Election Day a holiday as well.

“By providing this day dedicated to civic engagement each year, we are making a clear distinction that our American student-athletes will always be citizens before they are athletes,” said Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee chair Ethan Good. “The student-athlete voice continues to grow louder and louder every year, and we can see that through this action.”

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MARCH 06: A NCAA logo is seen on the wall as Yeshiva players warmup prior to playing against Worcester Polytechnic Institute during the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship - First Round at Goldfarb Gymnasium on at Johns Hopkins University on March 6, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had confirmed three cases of residents with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, prompting Johns Hopkins officials to host the NCAA men's basketball tournament without spectators. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Student-athletes will have much less to worry about on Election Day. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

NBA has been pushing for voting resources

The NCAA’s move runs parallel to what is happening in the NBA right now. NBA players have pushed hard for teams to use their enormous resources to make it easier to vote in their communities.

The players held a wildcat strike last month and came out of it with a pledge that all arenas would be turned into voting centers for the upcoming election. That came with some notable caveats though. Only arenas owned by the teams were included in the pledge, the Boston Celtics’ TD Garden was registered too late and the Miami Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena was deemed an inferior option by authorities compared to a much smaller science museum.

LeBron James has been doing similar work with his own More Than A Vote anti-voter suppression group.

There has also been an internal movement for players to actually vote, as a meeting among players apparently found that just 20 percent of them had voted in the last election. Teams have pushed players to register to vote, and now the NCAA is making it easier for its own athletes as well.

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Originally published