Student Athletes Facing Pregnancy
Will student athletes who find that that they or their partner are facing a pregnancy have the support of their college athletic department? The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) created the Model Pregnancy Policy to ensure that a student athlete, female or male, does not have to face discrimination that would inhibit their physical/mental health or academic achievement.
The NCAA’s core purpose is to “govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”*
For women in the United States generally, unintended pregnancy is highest in the age group 20-24 years…”**
It is estimated that a realistic percentage of female student athletes as well as partners of male student athletes who experience pregnancy is close to 10%-15% in collegiate athletic departments.*** Wright State University (WSU) in Dayton, Ohio recently released an article about pregnancy among student athletes. WSU Faculty Athletics Representative Elizabeth Sorenson shared her concerns that many student athletes don’t even know that the NCAA will be supportive of a student athlete who decides to carry out the pregnancy. However, “A member institution may approve a one-year extension of the five-year period of eligibility for a female student athlete for reasons of pregnancy.” (Division 1 Manual pg. 154) In addition,
As long as you are in good academic standing with your university and do not voluntarily withdraw from your team, it is against federal law to withdraw or reduce your financial aid in the event of pregnancy…” -[download id=”13″]
Every NCAA college must adhere to the NCAA guidelines and policies. This means that even if a college does not have a written pregnancy policy in their own student athlete handbook, the Model Policy on pregnancy in the NCAA Handbook still applies.
According to University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) Associate Athletic Director, Jaime Lundgren, they are currently in the process of adding this written policy to the UNK Student Athlete Handbook. Furthermore, each year she personally informs all UNK student athletes that the UNK Athletic Department will support them if they face an unplanned pregnancy during their athletic career.
**Source: Finer, Lawrence B. & Henshaw, Stanley K. (2006). Disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 38, 90-96.
***Source: Sorensen, Elizabeth A., Sincoff, Michael Z. & Siebeneck, Erin M. (2008). The Need for an Effective Student- Athlete Pregnancy and Parenting Policy. (Unpublished.)