October 10, 2002

Athletic Directors Confer on Seven-Week Rule

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Ivy League athletic directors met this past weekend and made several recommendations for modifications to the league’s new seven-week-off policy. Most notable about these latest changes is a change to the off period required for rowing and usage of weight training facilities devoted to varsity athletes during off periods.

The Council of Ivy Group Presidents reportedly approved the reduction in the required off days for rowing from the standard 49 as called for by the policy to 33. This change was made due to the year-long nature of the sport and the often unreliable availability of water in which to row.

Also, a clarification was made to the policy regarding weight room usage. During the standard training week, each varsity team spends a certain amount of time in athletics-specific weight training facilities.

At Cornell, each team has regular time scheduled for usage of the Friedman Strength and Conditioning Center each week. In addition to each team’s specific time, there is also open time during which any varsity athlete may use the facility. Under the seven-week rule, during each off period, athletes may continue to use the Friedman Center, but must do so during open time as opposed to their team’s normally scheduled time at the Center.

In addition, the athletic directors reaffirmed their position banning captains’ practices during off periods.

“The President has made it very clear that Cornell is very serious about this new set of rules,” said compliance coordinator Patty Weldon. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we stay compliant.”

On Monday, athletic director Andy Noel addressed the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) to allay that group’s concerns about the new policy and the effects it will have on the lives and training of Cornell athletes.

Over one month into the fall sports season, Cornell student-athletes remain rather discontented with the policy.

“I think everyone is very frustrated with the rule,” said junior gymnast Rachel Goldberg, who is the president of the SAAC. “People at Ivy League schools who are in athletics do their sport because they want to compete… It’s very difficult for them when they can’t practice.”

While relating to the group that he believes that no more changes will be made to the policy this year, Noel is of the belief that if changes are made in the future, the Council would be most likely to respond to the concerns of the student-athletes.

“I do believe the presidents will listen most carefully to students,” he said.

Noel also explained the thought process behind the formulation of the policy. While the presidents initially favored a 10-week moratorium on athletic activity, the league’s eight athletic directors, after consulting with coaches, believed that five to six weeks off would be more appropriate. The resulting compromise was the current policy.

Addressing concerns expressed thus far by student-athletes, President Hunter R. Rawlings III told the Sun that he believes this policy would offer a great many benefits to athletes.

“We wanted to ensure student-athletes have time on their own to participate in broad activities on campus,” Rawlings said. “I think the presidents felt they wanted to allow more of a window for that.”

A specific concern held by many Cornell athletes was that this policy will impede Ivy League schools’ abilities to effectively compete in the national arena. According to Noel, the presidents do not share that concern.

“If anythingli