A Bill for Thought

By Staff

Athletic Management, 15.3, April/May 2003, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1503/wubill.htm

In an effort to spark debate, retired University of Kansas Track and Field Coach Bob Timmons has created a 64-page Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, and announced the formation of the National Student-Athletes’ Rights Movement.

“The NCAA does an awful lot of good, and without their leadership, I don’t know what would happen,” says Timmons, who coached world record holders Al Oerter and Jim Ryun. “But more than ever before, big money is dominating its agenda, and it just seems like the whole thing is way out of balance.”

Begun in May 2002, the organization has three main goals: to encourage discussion among student-athletes, parents, coaches, administrators, and public officials; to make the welfare of student-athletes the top priority of the NCAA; and to change NCAA policies to establish what it calls “basic fairness and justice” for all student-athletes.

It’s a project that Timmons has been thinking about since 1965, when he saw a Notre Dame student-athlete ruled ineligible at the NCAA cross-country championships because of a clerical error made by his coach. The coach tried to appeal, but nothing worked, and that’s when Timmons started collecting a list of rules he thought were unfair. After retiring in 1988, he revised them into the Bill of Rights, which he’s sent to newspapers, radio stations, television networks, coaches, conference officials, and every athletic director in the NCAA.

Timmons knows that the chances of the NCAA adopting the Bill of Rights are slim, but is encouraged by the discussions that are beginning. “I realize we’re up against a lot,” says Timmons. “It can get pretty frustrating. But I’ve gone from ’65 to right now, and I’m not about to give up.”

The full text of the Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights can be found on the Web at www.ncaastudentathletes.org