Following the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Collegiate Advisory Council meeting on Sept. 10, 2019, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the group has collaborated with the autonomy conferences and the NCAA to put forward three concepts into the 2019-2020 NCAA autonomy legislative cycle to support national team student-athlete participation in both the collegiate and international systems. Annually, 200-300 Team USA senior national team athletes compete collegiately. 

“Our council’s progress could not have been realized without the support of our NCAA and autonomy conference colleagues,” said Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics at Duke University. “These historic efforts to collaborate on legislative reforms and cross-promote the Olympians Made Here campaign are testaments of the progress that can be achieved when working together to improve the student-athletes experience.”

The year-long effort to identify and draft the proposal concepts began with an anonymous survey of more than 300 Team USA athletes who competed collegiately. Findings from the survey, which identified impediments athletes face while competing in both systems, were examined by a group of collegiate compliance administrators to help determine legislative remedies to the impediments. 

“Entering the national team development concepts into the 2019-20 NCAA autonomy legislative cycle is an important next step in serving our elite student-athletes,” said Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference commissioner. “Autonomy schools and conferences must be leaders in this area and ensure elite national team student-athletes do not have to choose between their education and sport – instead we should provide the flexibility to allow them to succeed at both.”

The group recommended the following three proposals to the USOPC CAC to be submitted into the 2019-2020 autonomy legislative cycle:  

- Establish an exception permitting the USOPC and international elite to train with their coaches according to their personal training plans and competitive calendars,
- Propose legislation to permit currently restricted elite development expenses (training partners, sport experts, guardian travel, etc.) to be provided by the USOPC/NGB as benefits, and
- Amend legislation to include Paralympic with relevant Olympic references, which extends NCAA waivers and exceptions to elite Paralympic student-athletes.  

“I had the opportunity engage with collegiate leaders and athletes on these important reforms, and the proposed changes will provide athletes with more flexibility to pursue their Olympic and Paralympic dreams in 2020 and beyond,” said Jamie Redman, USRowing Athlete Advisory Council alternate. “I’m excited to continue working with the USOPC CAC on this initiative and to help create meaningful change that will positively impact all Team USA student-athletes.” 

If adopted by the autonomy conferences in January 2020, the USOPC will begin educational outreach to institutions, student-athletes and national governing bodies.

The council also discussed and reviewed a cooperation plan across the USOPC and NCAA to editorially promote the value of national team student-athletes competing at NCAA championships and Olympic trials. The cooperation plan includes components of resource and research sharing, as well as plans to include the Olympians Made Here campaign and messaging into its Division I championships during the 2019-2020 academic year and similar activation during the 2020 Olympic Trials.
“Olympic trials and NCAA championships have tremendous reach across the country and in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will help educate the public on our important collegiate athletics enterprise” said Sandy Barbour, vice president for intercollegiate athletics at Pennsylvania State University. “The inspiring stories of our national team student-athletes need to be told utilizing the loudest megaphones, and we’re excited to shepherd that amplification through this collaborative effort.” 

About the USOPC CAC
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Collegiate Advisory Council was formed in October 2017 and is chaired by USOPC board member Kevin White (Duke University). The 10-member council is charged with increasing collaboration with NCAA member institutions and conferences to elevate national engagement and support of Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities on campus. The council is comprised of:

Sandy Barbour, Pennsylvania State University director of athletics
Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference commissioner 
Greg Byrne, University of Alabama athletics director
Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina director of athletics
Bernard Muir, Stanford University athletic director
Rob Mullens, University of Oregon athletic director
Chris Plonsky, University of Texas executive sr. associate athletics director/chief of staff 
Gene Smith, The Ohio State University senior vice president and athletic director
Scott Stricklin, University of Florida athletic director
Kevin White, Duke University vice president and athletic director

The council, which convenes quarterly, will meet again during the 2020 NCAA Convention, which takes place Jan. 22-25 in Anaheim, California.