Tigers’ Andrews gives athletes an NCAA voice

Clemson right-handed pitcher Patrick Andrews (Clemson sports information)

For all the complexities tangled up in major moves to loosen rules that govern college athletics, Clemson junior pitcher Patrick Andrews isn’t consumed with revolution.

“I personally have no burning desire to change the process. I have loved every second of my time as a student-athlete at Clemson,” said the Mechanical Engineering major from Hilton Head.

But Andrews has plunged into his role as a voting representative at this weekend’s game-changing NCAA Convention. One of only three ACC athletes officially traveling to Washington, D.C., Andrews will hear unprecedented proposals about Power 5 conference autonomy, money sharing, “full cost of attendance” and concussions.

The NCAA routinely gives athletes input on various committees and has let them into conventions before. But with legal challenges ranging from lawsuits threatening the NCAA’s use of athletes’ images (the Ed O’Bannon case) to a Northwestern football push for unionization, the ruling body of college athletics seems more willing to listen.

That’s overdue.

“The most rewarding part of this entire experience is just the chance to give back to the student-athlete population,” Andrews said. “There were a lot of deserving student-athletes nominated for this position and I’m sure the ACC had a hard time narrowing it down to three.”

Andrews, nominated for duty by Clemson head coach Jack Leggett, has met with Clemson’s NCAA compliance staff and school administrators. He attended ACC meetings in Charlotte with the other two voting athletes from the conference, Notre Dame’s Kaila Barber (track) and Pittsburgh’s Artie Rowell (football).

He has queried athletes at Clemson, and other schools.

“It’s not as much that my voice will be heard,” Andrews said, “it’s that this is an opportunity for student-athletes to represent themselves. The intent of this vote goes far beyond my personal opinion.”

Most importantly, Andrews has studied the issues.

Power 5 autonomy:

The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have power based on a $7.3 billion ESPN deal for the College Football Playoff and intend to use it, probably to the detriment of non-Power 5 schools.

“It’s hard to say how this will all unfold, but it’s definitely a change,” Andrews said. “I believe it’s a move in the right direction; it gives a school the opportunities to provide what they feel are the necessary levels of support for student-athletes. We’re just trying to move forward and make sure we make more good decisions.”

Insurance (beyond the college years):

“Extended health care coverage is an excellent idea,” Andrews said. “The more people you can protect and plan for, the better job you’re doing.”

Full cost of attendance:

That means giving scholarship athletes extra money for expenses and travel, which includes a percentage boost for partial scholarship athletes such as baseball players.

“The intent is right where it needs to be, and to be able to cover the actual cost of attending a university is the concept of a scholarship,” Andrews said. “To get as close to that number as they can is right on point with the whole concept of scholarships.”

Concussion protocols:

“Every year it seems there’s a new medical study that comes out with new data on how concussions should be handled,” Andrews said. “You have to make sure that you stay up to date and have the best possible plan in place.”

Hopefully the NCAA officials, conference commissioners, school presidents and athletic directors gathered in Washington, D.C., listen to Andrews and the other athletes this weekend.

And the best thing the athletes can ask for?

More representation next year.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff