Do College Basketball Players Have School During March Madness?

Do College Basketball Players Have School During March Madness

Every year beginning in March, 68 NCAA Division I basketball teams compete in the notorious March Madness Tournament. The tournament is broadcasted on national television, and fans across the country cheer on their favorite team. With all of the excitement surrounding the tradition of March Madness, it is easy for passionate fans to forget that the athletes competing are also full-time students at the university for which they are competing. Read on to learn more about how these players balance school and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Student-Athlete Attendance

Since the tournament takes place in the middle of the academic semester, players still have to attend school even when participating in March Madness. Student-athlete attendance has become a controversial subject over the years. With jam-packed practice schedules and constant travel, attending class is not always easy for Division I athletes, and their academics are often forced to take a back seat. Because of this, a majority of teams travel with academic advisors that find times for teams to conduct study halls and provide additional academic support.

Throughout the tournament, student-athletes are encouraged to maintain communication with their professors to ensure that they are caught up on lecture materials, exams, and other assignments. In some cases, professors will grant advisors permission to proctor exams when a team is on the road, but if the professor is not comfortable with this, they will arrange for the student-athlete to either take the exam before they leave or when they return from traveling for the tournament. It is crucial for student-athletes to keep up with their work throughout the tournament so that they are prepared for their final exams when they return back to campus.

Luke Maye

In 2017, Luke Maye became the poster child for juggling Division I basketball play and academic work. During that year’s March Madness Tournament, the University of North Carolina defeated the University of Kentucky and advanced to the Final Four thanks to a buzzer-beater shot made by Luke Maye. The next morning, Maye was recorded walking into his 8 a.m. business class lecture, where he understandably received a standing ovation.

In order to incentivize student-athletes to attend their classes, many universities threaten an athlete's eligibility to compete or even fine them if they do not attend class. Also, some universities track their student-athletes’ attendance by implementing the use of monitors that attend classes to ensure that their players are showing up.

Degree Completion Assistance

Unfortunately, the number of college basketball players completing their degrees is one of the lowest in NCAA sports. In order to combat this statistic, the NCAA instituted a policy called the “Degree Completion Assistance Program” that assists college basketball players in earning their degrees. Since a college player’s schedule is extremely busy, they are often tempted to focus less on their studies and more on what is happening on the court, which often leads to academic difficulties. This program was implemented to help players who do not go on to play professionally to graduate with marketable degrees.