Majority of ACC athletes surveyed want to be involved in reform model discussions

On3 imageby:Eric Prisbell01/23/24

EricPrisbell

Andy Staples Explaining Letter Sent From NCAA President Charlie Baker | 12.05.23

As the importance of amplifying the voice of the student-athlete becomes an increasing part of the narrative surrounding college sports reform, athletes themselves are saying they want to be more involved.

A survey of ACC athletes by Athletes.org revealed that 60% of those who responded said they want to be involved in discussions about the creation of a model like the one the NCAA proposed last month.

The first survey conducted by the organization is part of its mission to specifically amplify athletes’ voices overall during this time of significant disruption and dynamic change in college athletics – so that athletes can have more direct input on important issues that personally affect them. 

Questions in the survey focused on reaction to NCAA President Charlie Baker’s bold reform proposal – which is now in the hands of the Division I Council, marking the next step in the association’s legislative process. Athletes were also asked about the ACC’s decision to add StanfordCalifornia and SMU, realignment moves that will directly impact them with additional travel. 

In total, 128 ACC athletes responded – including those from every league school and from 13 different sports. It was not specified how many athletes responded from each sport.

What is Athletes.org?

On3 is a media partner with AO, the non-profit organization launched in August that provides on-demand support to athletes navigating the college experience while providing a platform to speak on the future of college sports.

The group founded by former INFLCR founder Jim Cavale and former Penn and NFL linebacker Brandon Copeland is structured similarly to other players’ associations, with chapters within sports and conferences based on participation.

All individual Athletes.org chapters will be comprised of athletes based on their sport and conference. The first two chapters – for ACC men’s basketball athletes and for ACC women’s basketball athletes — launched in late November.

Giving athletes seat at table is prominent issue

As movement toward a new financial model accelerates – multiple court cases and National Labor Relations Board cases are also hurtling college athletes toward potentially seismic change – expect questions to only grow louder about how student-athletes can use their voice to help ensure a new model is fair and addresses their considerations.

As it related to Baker’s proposal directly, the survey also found that 90% are in favor of a model that allows schools to directly pay them. That is the key element in the NCAA’s plan, marking a dramatic departure from the NCAA’s stance that schools cannot directly compensate athletes. 

Baker’s plan calls for the creation of a new subdivision of like-minded, highly-resourced schools that could create their own policies and pay athletes at least $30,000 annually from a trust fund. Some 64% of the ACC athletes who responded said they are in favor of the formation of such a subdivision, which could include anywhere between 60 and 100 schools that generate the most athletics revenue.

ACC athletes surveyed about realignment

The survey also revealed interesting findings related to conference realignment in the wake of the ACC deciding to expand its footprint westward. 

Some 26% said they “dislike or hate” that the ACC added those schools. Some 30% think it is “OK or like it,” while 44% are neutral.

More interestingly, 76% indicated that their respective athletic department has not explained how travel will work with the additions of two Bay Area schools and the Texas university.

Also noteworthy, 91% said their athletic department did not ask for their opinion on adding the three schools before the decision was announced. That means at least some of the athletes who responded indicated that they were consulted by athletic department officials about the expansion move before it was announced.

Also, 73% said that if these three schools were members of the ACC when they committed to their current school, it would not have changed their decision. Twenty-seven percent said they would have committed elsewhere or are not sure. 

And, finally, it was nearly 50-50 whether the athletes who responded wanted the ACC to add more schools in addition to Stanford, Cal and SMU.