FanDuel - WFBC

August 29, 2006

Should male athletes be permitted an extra year of NCAA eligibility if they take a season off for paternity leave?: That's the question (and lawsuit) that Kansas University Defensive Tackle Eric Butler is asking of the NCAA and the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals [more inside]

posted by Ufez Jones to general at 09:51 AM - 44 comments

While initially having the support of the KU Athletic Department, the recent ruling handed down by the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee has forced Butler off of the practice field and left him fending for himself. The basis for his suit is that the pregnancy exception granted to female college athletes should be given to fathers as well, and not granting it for male athletes would be a violation of Title IX. Some disagree.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:52 AM on August 29

I really do believe they will be granted some sort of leave-time, but how much, I'm not sure. With a female, it's pretty simple to understand what they'll be doing while pregnant. With guys, they may just be hanging out, doing nothing, and not really even be involved with the child, mother or pregnancy. It could also turn out to be a way for coaches, teams, or players themselves to give themselves an extra year to mature, lift weights, etc. almost like another redshirt year. It could be used as a manipulation in order to save a player for a year down the road.

posted by dyams at 11:00 AM on August 29

I think they should. I mean, the guy didn't just up and leave on the girl like a lot of guys would have if they were in his situation. He stayed with the mother to take care of her and the kid, and now he is trying to make a life for them. LET BUTLER PLAY!

posted by zachaweenus at 11:00 AM on August 29

I don't really support this effort unless women get time off for child-rearing. It seems that women are just getting the time off because they are unable to compete because of the physical demands of pregnancy. This obviously doesn't apply to men. If women are getting some sort of maternity leave to spend with a newly born child that is longer than it takes to physically recover from a pregnancy, then that should also apply to men.

posted by bperk at 11:04 AM on August 29

Remember the poignant pics of Keith VanHorn's wife and child, and other wives and children watching their loved one's playing in NCAA games?I don't recall them taking a year off because "they" were pregnant.Maybe I'm a dinosaur,but,when when MY son was born,I was in school,and having to work two jobs.It sure would have been nice to have spent a few more hours a day with my new family,but the next five years or so gave us all a better life.The fact that I had a new family to think of drove me to work harder and better,not to "take a year off"

posted by Tubby Fan at 11:19 AM on August 29

Some people think a better life is actually seeing your kids. I think it is great when parents are able to take time off to spend time with their newborns. No money in the world can give you back that time. The fact that Keith Van Horn or you chose no to take that time doesn't make it the right choice for everyone else.

posted by bperk at 12:05 PM on August 29

The man has only played 2 years of college athletics. He wants one more year of eligibility to play sports. What's wrong with that. He did the right thing, staying home with his wife and child, not out playing football. Equal rights means equal rights, if a female athelete can get a year off for maternity leave, then a male athelete should be entitled to a year off of athletics as he is involved just as much in the rearing of the child. This seems so straightforward, no wonder the NCAA sees it the other way. They must be one of the most obtusely run organizations I've ever seen .

posted by tommytrump at 12:16 PM on August 29

I don't think anyone has ever credited the NCAA with the ability to think forward enough to make an equitable decision without being forced to by the courts, some advocacy group, or public opinion. The NCAA is run by a group of narrow-minded, big-time athletics oriented people who seem to take a one-size-fits-all approach to the unique problems of individuals. I applaud Mr. Butler for changing his life style to bettter accommodate his wife and child. I note that the article says that both Butler and his wife were enrolled in college. By staying with his wife and child, it appears that the Butlers were able to adjust their class schedules so that they could provide child care without placing the child in a nursery or in day care. To me, that sounds like a much better option. Obviously, a pregnant woman cannot play some sports, and would have the time she could participate in some others restricted to the earlier stages of pregnancy, but why should women exclusively be recognized as care givers and be allowed by the NCAA to make up thie time lost? Perhaps allowing both men and women extra eligibility, but giving the women a little more time to make up for the effects of the pregnancy itself, would be an equitable solution. As for the comment that the extra year of eligibility might be misused by some to gain strength, experience, etc., I highly doubt that there will be a sudden epidemic of pregnancies among the athlete's wives or girlfriends, just to gain some sort of competetive edge. Please credit student-athletes with a little more integrity than that.

posted by Howard_T at 01:07 PM on August 29

...is it that hard to wait until AFTER school to have a baby?

posted by igottheblues at 01:15 PM on August 29

Men are allowed time off for the birth of a child under The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that ol' slick Willie pushed through, so I would think what's good for the goose is good for the gander in this situation as well.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:16 PM on August 29

As a matter of law, I think Butler's case is not great for the reasons cited in the Sports Law Blog linked by Ufez. As a matter of policy (and as a critique of the NCAA as an organization), I could not agree more with Howard T.

posted by holden at 02:17 PM on August 29

This is just one more case of the NCAA showing they just don't get it. The atheletes they are dealing with are real adults, with real adult things to deal with. I am sick to death of the NCAA acting as if every athelete between the age of 18-23, and all aspects of their life are the property of the NCAA. If he had wanted to go pro two years ago they would have stepped in and said no. Why? because they can. If this were any other business the government would step in and break them up as being a monopoly. This is a billion dollar business that does not pay its employees. I wouldn't say the NCAA is obtuse, so much as it is vindictive.

posted by CB900 at 02:23 PM on August 29

CB, good points all, but I think I'm right on the obtuse point. Obtuse: (adj) synonyms include unfeeling, tactless, insensitive, inperceptive, boorish, slow, dim. Yup, that's the NCAA right there.

posted by tommytrump at 03:05 PM on August 29

Should male athletes be permitted an extra year of NCAA eligibility if they take a season off for paternity leave? Yes.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:28 PM on August 29

Yea I'll give ya that one tommy.

posted by CB900 at 04:17 PM on August 29

Let's not forget that the NCAA is an unfortunate but often times necessary evil to counter quite a few smart, slick coaches out there who are always looking for a way to "bend" the rules to gain an advantage. I hate to sound old-fashion(ed), but if it's a bad time to have a kid, don't have a kid. If you have a kid deal with it. I'm 31 I want kids, I'm married, but I can't afford kids, so guess what? I don't have kids.

posted by SummersEve at 04:20 PM on August 29

Men are allowed time off for the birth of a child under The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that ol' slick Willie pushed through, so I would think what's good for the goose is good for the gander in this situation as well. The goose being the world of work, and the gander being college? Because that's the implicit comparison that you're making here.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:34 PM on August 29

"I hate to sound old-fashion(ed), but if it's a bad time to have a kid, don't have a kid. If you have a kid deal with it. I'm 31 I want kids, I'm married, but I can't afford kids, so guess what? I don't have kids." posted by SummersEve at 4:20 PM CDT on August 29 I think male athletes should get 12 weeks, the same 12 weeks,(if you subtract 9 months from a year) that females get. And oh yeah, If you keep waiting for the perfect situation to have a child, you are never going to have one.

posted by bo_fan at 05:47 PM on August 29

If the man is stand-up enough to be there for his woman and his child,he should be rewarded.the NCAA make stupid rulings all the time about apartments(see Dwayne Jarret USC) and other simple things.this is a no-brainer.give the man a break.better yet,give the man a medal.

posted by mars1 at 06:41 PM on August 29

Yeah, it's far better to bring a child into a situation that is completely unprepared for it.

posted by igottheblues at 09:21 PM on August 29

Yeah, it's far better to bring a child into a situation that is completely unprepared for it. Who is bringing a child into an unprepared situation? The man is married(to the mother of the baby no less), is a university student, and is on pace to graduate in May of '07. This guy sounds like he's got his stuff together.

posted by tommytrump at 10:10 PM on August 29

If the man is stand-up enough to be there for his woman and his child,he should be rewarded.the NCAA make stupid rulings all the time about apartments(see Dwayne Jarret USC) and other simple things.this is a no-brainer.give the man a break.better yet,give the man a medal. What are you talking about? Do you really want to give every man who is "stand-up enough to be there for his woman" a medal? Or better yet another year or two of eligibility to play football. This guy played when his kid was two; he played when his kid was four. He didn't know the rules. If he had taken the time to understand the rules, would he have sat out at all? Now that his kid is five, football seems to be pretty important to him. Really, what does this guy's kid have to do with this? Nothing.

posted by tselson at 10:10 PM on August 29

...is it that hard to wait until AFTER school to have a baby? So, what should they have done, have an abortion so as to not upset the NCAA ?

posted by tommytrump at 10:29 PM on August 29

So, what should they have done, have an abortion so as to not upset the NCAA ? Please, let's not go down that alley.

posted by Ufez Jones at 12:18 AM on August 30

I guess the question, to me, comes down to; do female athletes get an extra year of eligility only if the term of the pregnancy conflicts with the season for for their particualr sport? If that is the case, and if there is no post-natal accomodation, then the suit has no merit as entered (that is as a violation of Title IX due to being discriminatory on the basis of sex) since non-pregnant, even post-natal females, are treated the same as the male athletes are. FMLA is not applicable since there are no employees involved. And it may not be germane to the current discussion, but would you only make the additional year available to married players? Or, limit the number of times the additional year can be applied to a given player? It may be cynical, but I can see some coach somewhere with a booster offering to 'arrange' for a player to be able to get an extra year or two of eligibility.

posted by elovrich at 12:33 AM on August 30

The g-- d--- Germans got nothin' to do with it.

posted by Ricardo at 04:30 AM on August 30

But they did bomb Pearl Harbor... Seriously, methinks there's a bit more wear 'n' tear (pun intended) on a woman's body during childbirth than on the man's. Not to mention it's probably not a good idea to run hurdles or 10-meter platform dive while six months along. Pretty safe to assume that's why the woman gets some extra time to recover isn't it?

posted by SummersEve at 05:40 AM on August 30

Please, let's not go down that alley. So far as I know, back alleys aren't your only option. There's always the stairs.

posted by yerfatma at 06:08 AM on August 30

The g-- d--- Germans got nothin' to do with it. But they did bomb Pearl Harbor... HUH? Damn were my history teachers confused, they told my Japan did that. There are obvious physical differences between men and women. Untill the human race evolves into an a-sexual society, or scientists deveolp a way for men to give birth, trying to make all things equal between the two just wont work.

posted by Folkways at 08:18 AM on August 30

HUH? Damn were my history teachers confused, they told my Japan did that. It's a joke, son, a joke. There are obvious physical differences between men and women. From the rest of your paragraph, I believe you're talking about the difference between having ovaries and a uterus vs. not having them. What's so obvious about this?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:46 AM on August 30

llb. The boy just does not know about Animal House, nor Foghorn Leghorn.

posted by elovrich at 09:09 AM on August 30

There's always the stairs. Or the 10-meter diving platform.

posted by SummersEve at 10:15 AM on August 30

I have no idea what the big issue is here.... My wife and I have had two kids and I returned to work the next day.

posted by Stealth_72 at 10:16 AM on August 30

Thank you Stealth,you're absolutely right. But had you taken a year off,would you had a job to return to? If this man wants to be an adult,he has to know that there are hard decisions to be made.You know the rules going in.So-you make your decisions and stick with them.and don't whine about them later. Like it or not-- The NCAA is the governing body of extracuricular activities.And I stess extracuricular. It is not his,mine or anybody's birth-right to play college athletics. In a perfect world,we would all make the team. I'm sorry,but he broke the rules.Now mabe he can set a great example for his newborn,by going too school and getting his degree.

posted by Tubby Fan at 10:44 AM on August 30

I agree with you Stealth, I never took a year off of work. I went to work to supoort my family AFTER I was able to support a family. My wife or babies were not mentally damaged in any way because I wasn't there during the day. I took the night shift and still worked days. School is not the time to have a child and don't tell me it was an accident. No, I don't think he should get the extra year. He is not going to school 40 hours a week 365 days a year. He could have cared for Mom and child and still went to school and played ball. I'm sure I'll catch it, but it is JMO.

posted by Psycho at 10:45 AM on August 30

I'm really glad that you're all so tough and suck-it-up. It makes me feel more secure to know that I live in a world of such virtuous people. However...the devil's advocate who stands behind my chair is saying, "Gee, ya know, I bet the NCAA eligibility rules aren't exactly a 3x5 card's worth of unambiguous English, and I also bet that very few of the tough, suck-it-up, takers-of-personal-responsibility have read (for instance) all the fine print on their health insurance or their car insurance or their terms of employment, and gosh golly I bet there are a lot of things that these tough types would have to say if/when they got caught by a clause/interpretation of one of these various contracts that they didn't know about, but I'll bet that, 'Yeah, I should have known,' is not early or often among them."

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:12 AM on August 30

Life is full of trade offs. NCAA rules are ridiculous but if a player is getting a scholarship for playing football (which is ridiculous anyway) then I guess he better make the choice to play or pay. Butler was promised a scholarship for playing football but he decided to take a year off and now is fighting for eligibility so he won't have to pay tuition. To me whether you are a man or a woman, if you are essentially paid for a job, and you make the choice to take time off for parenthood, the employer should have the right to find another employee who will show up to work. Making babies is a personally choice and should be made if you can afford it, want it, and are willing to make the sacrafice for it. It isn't something that should be subsidized by the employer, our tax dollars, the NCAA or anybody but the people who are making the babies. The notion that taxpayers and employers should be subsidizing people who cannot afford children for making more children is stupid. Why do we give people who can afford million dollar homes a tax break but not people who can only afford to rent? Why do we give a tax break for having children when families with children tax our social service system more than single, childless wage earners? This whole concept is backwards. Bottom line, if you want kids its gonna cost you. If you don't want to pay, don't have them. More importantly don't ask me to help pay for them.

posted by Atheist at 11:50 AM on August 30

LBB, tell your devil there are plenty of folks at each school in each athletic department and at the NCAA who's sole mission in life is to deal with these things. And they have phones and email addresses. If my future hinges on a decision, I check the fine print, and then call someone who deals with said fine print full time. He was picking a college not renting a car or signing up for a gym. The NCAA will clamp down this rule before anyone else can use it. Because you can bet any time a blue-chip recruit needs to go to prep school because of grades some coach would roll this out to get him an extra year.

posted by SummersEve at 12:48 PM on August 30

SummersEve, I guess that means you never make a mistake with the paperwork. Congrats for you! I don't have a dog in this hunt; I don't have an opinion about whether NCAA regs should allow for paternity time. My guess is that the guy just took the time and didn't bother to check whether it would all work out. Diligent? Not very, but then, neither are many college-age kids, and neither were most of us when we were that age -- even when important stuff was at stake, believe it or not. So, perhaps a bit less righteous indignation is in order, at least from those of us who are less scrupulous than SummersEve at reading and understanding all the fine details of every agreement we enter into. I'll fully admit that I'm in that category, but I won't believe that nearly all the rest of y'all aren't.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:35 PM on August 30

HUH? Damn were my history teachers confused, they told my Japan did that. It's a joke, son, a joke. Also a joke hun. I believe you're talking about the difference between having ovaries and a uterus vs. not having them. What's so obvious about this? Your right M'Lady, poor choice of words or phrasing or something. Still, men and women are not equal physicaly so to try and make the "rules" equal IMO just doesnt make since. The boy just does not know about Animal House, nor Foghorn Leghorn. I say...I say...I say...I saw Animal House at a theater in '78. Yea I am that old, just have childish tendinces (peter pan syndrom) some would say. "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son. "

posted by Folkways at 01:40 PM on August 30

Your right M'Lady, poor choice of words or phrasing or something. Still, men and women are not equal physicaly so to try and make the "rules" equal IMO just doesnt make since. Why do you put "rules" in quotes? Is this meant to suggest that they aren't really rules? As far as men and women not being "equal physicaly[sic]", you need to make the distinction between "the same" and "equal" before you can even begin to come up with a point to support whatever argument you're trying to make about NCAA regs. Women, in general, have ovaries and a uterus, although not every woman does. Most women of college age who are possessed of ovaries and a uterus are physically capable of conceiving and bearing a child to term. Men cannot do that. But you can't just use that as the sole basis to argue, "...and therefore 'the rules' ought to be different." You have to take into account the NCAA's rationale for allowing women to extend eligibility because of pregnancy, if they do, when they do. Why do they grant the extension? Because of the physical rigors of pregnancy, and what it does to a woman's training? Or because of the time involved in parenting the child? Until you know which of these the NCAA had in mind (or both, or something else altogether), you cannot categorically state that lack of a uterus means that there is no logical justification for a similar extension for men.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:32 PM on August 30

Dwight: Number one, inverted Penis. Meredith: Could you mean vagina? Cause if you do, I want that covered. Dwight: I thought your vagina was removed during your hysterectomy. Meredith: A uterus is different from a vagina. I still have a vagina.

posted by SummersEve at 09:15 AM on August 31

...come up with a point to support whatever argument you're trying to make about NCAA regs. Thatís just it, im not trying to argue. I simply (albeit perhaps to simply) said that because of differences between the sexes trying to make the rules around paternity leave the same for both doesnít make since to me. Nothing more nothing less.

posted by Folkways at 09:15 AM on August 31

From Ufez's last link: The rule doesn't treat women different from men; it treats pregnant women different from men as well as non-pregnant women. Many women (those who are not pregnant) are treated the same as men under the rule, and thus the rule does not treat similarly situated persons differently on the basis of sex.

posted by bperk at 10:06 AM on August 31

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