Airport delays, waiting on flight times and dealing with TSA are just a few things student athletes will not miss next year in the Big 12 Conference, Rhonda Hatcher said.
Hatcher serves as TCU’s faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and has occasionally traveled with athletic teams over the years. In the past, Hatcher has seen students inconvenienced by conflicting class and game schedules, she said.
Moving into a conference with more drivable locations gives teams the opportunity to bus home immediately after games, Mark Cohen, director of athletics media relations, said.
Another contributing factor to missing less class and spending less time on travel is, aside from West Virginia, that all of the teams in the Big 12 are on Central Standard Time.
In the past, Mountain West opponents were on both Mountain and Pacific time zones. These times caused games to last even longer on Central time, Hatcher said.
Throughout the university’s time in the Mountain West Conference, some games started at 7 p.m. and the games end at 10 p.m. The combination of late games, and airports forced many teams to stay overnight.
It was just physically impossible to get home in the same night with an airplane, Jack Hesselbrock, athletics director for internal relations, said.
Delisa Gross, senior forward for the women’s basketball team said although the Mountain West was a great conference, the Big 12 will definitely help the team with a lot of their academics.
Travel times in the Big 12 are helping more than just athletes. Bojan Gutic, sophomore clarinet player in the TCU band said in the past the band traveled to both Baylor and SMU games due to “the long-standing rivalry with both teams.”
Aside from these games the band typically only performs at bowl games. Gutic said he hopes in future the band will be able to travel to all in-state football games because of the close proximities.
The NCAA does not have any policy on how many class days student athletes can miss, however the university has an official absence policy that applies to not only athletes but to band and other organizations in the faculty handbook, Hatcher said.
According to the handbook, the excused absence is from the period of time the student has to report to whatever transportation they are taking, to the time they are expected to get home. Students are also obligated to make up for any missed assignments or tests.
“Where student occasionally have trouble with the policy is, for example, if they come back from one of these trips at five in the morning and they have class at 8 a.m., that’s not excused,” Hatcher said.
Being able to get home faster and with less hassle will undoubtedly change this problem, Hatcher said.
More time on the bus will give students the opportunity to study, read and catch up on sleep, things they would not be able to do with the distractions on a commercial flight, Hesselbrock said.
“I think it’s a better environment for them, I really do,” Hesselbrock said.