Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com is reporting that the ACC may consider playing football and basketball games in Europe. The response that followed was predictable:
Student-athletes! RT @cbssports: ACC is considering playing football and basketball games in Europe. bit.ly/ZAduVb
— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) April 26, 2013
The jury is still out though. Like foreign tours, there are good and bad ways to do in-season foreign competition. A two-week foreign tour overseas with an academic component and lots of time to sightsee is a great experience for athletes, and one they would be unlikely to get outside of intercollegiate athletics. Three or four games in Canada that the school scheduled mostly to get 10 extra practices for the basketball team is not a good use of the foreign tour rule.
Likewise, it all depends on how the ACC sets up European competition. If teams simply fly out a couple days before, miss extra class, play the game, and then fly back, it raises significant questions about what exactly a student-athlete is doing missing extra class and having to readjust their internal clock when they come back. But if, like in a good foreign tour, academics and cultural experiences are tied in, student-athletes can get a lot out of the experience.
The NCAA will likely be involved in some fashion, either with a waiver or legislation which sets guidelines for in-season foreign competition. This is an area where the national office or leadership in the governance structure can extract something in exchange for allowing athletes to be away from campus longer. That could mean aiming for school vacations so less class is missed or requiring that foreign trips include academic credit.
Given John Swofford’s comments and how the Board of Directors rolled over in a similar spot on the College Football Playoff, that might be unlikely. It will be up to the individual schools then to craft good or bad foreign trips. And the onus will fall on the NCAA to not let the rules stand in the way of better, more academically-focused experiences for athletes.