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January 6, 2011 - Football bowl season intrudes on the academic calendar for some BCS teams

An article in Sports Illustrated discussed how the extension of some of college football's bowl games and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) title game by another week intrudes on many of the student-athletes' academic schedule.  The article notes the misalignment of the scheduling of bowl games with the NCAA's principle bylaw on amateurism, which states that athletes are "an integral part of the student body."

In particular, student-athletes from the University of Oregon who played in the BCS championship were required to keep up with their academic work because the game fell during the first week of their winter quarter of classes.  Players were required to attend a make shift study hall during their week in Arizona, site of the game. Student-athletes from their opponent, Auburn University, did not have a similar issue because their academic calendar is on a semester system, with the first day of class on the same day as the game.

In its most recent report entitled "Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Value and the Future of College Sports," the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics specifically addressed football's prolonged postseason. Under a section entitled "Treating College Athletes as Students," the authors wrote: "Given the NCAA's stated principle, we note our disappointment that the current football postseason structure has been extended so that games now occur well into the second term ... and thus create conflicts with academic obligations. We recommend that all postseason competition for football end by a set date very early in January, before the beginning of winter term or quarter classes."

The report was released last June, a year after the BCS signed a new contract with ESPN that sets next year's title game for Jan. 9 and the two after that for Jan. 7. Weekends are reserved for the NFL playoffs, and the networks prefer airing special events on Mondays or Thursdays whenever possible.

"By extending [the postseason] to try to play it at a time the networks want it played intrudes on the mission of the NCAA," said Knight Commission Executive Director Amy Perko.