NCAA legislation limits the number of hours that student-athletes can engage in “countable athletically related activities” (CARAs) during the academic year. Any athletically related activity is countable if it is not “voluntary,” as that term is defined under NCAA legislation. For an activity to be voluntary (and not countable), all of the following conditions must be met:
- The activity must be initiated and requested solely by the student-athlete;
- Countable coaches, volunteer coaches, graduate assistant coaches, undergraduate assistant coaches, and/or other sport-specific noncoaching staff members (e.g., directors of operation) cannot be in attendance;
- There can be no required reporting of any information related to the activity back to a coach or other athletics department staff member;
- Attendance and participation in the activity may not be recorded for the purposes of reporting such information to coaching staff members or other student-athletes; and
- Lack of participation in the activity cannot be penalized (nor can attendance be incentivized).
NCAA practice hours rules
NCAA Bylaw 17 contains the legislation relating to “playing and practice seasons,” including all of the limits that are placed on practice hours. Much of the legislation is sport-specific and there are numerous exceptions to the general rules (which are explained below).
Practice hour limits depend on whether a team is in its declared playing season. Declarations of playing seasons are submitted to and maintained by the Compliance Office.
During the declared playing season:
- No more than 20 hours of CARAs in a week;
- No more than four hours of CARAs in a day;
- Must have one calendar day off from CARAs and RARAs each week; and
- No CARAs after a competition (e.g., student-athletes cannot be required to run after a loss).
Outside the declared playing season (during the academic year)
- No more than 8 hours of countable athletically related activities each week. Whether an activity is permissible depends on the sport:
- In football: weight training, conditioning, and film review.
- In sports other than football: weight training, conditioning, and skill instruction.
- No more than 4 hours of skill instruction (all sports but football) or 2 hours of film review (football) in a week.
- Must have two calendar days off from CARAs and RARAs each week.
- CARAs and RARAs are prohibited one week before the beginning of final exams until their conclusion.