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The Daily Illini

Letter to the Editor: The NCAA should help athletes with eating disorders

Danielle Lewis

When I think of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) I think of this huge organization that sees all and knows all. I assume that they have guidelines and practices for anything and everything that could be related to sports. I figure that they have everything in place to make sure an athlete’s health stays in tip top shape.

But what about an athlete’s mental health? The athletics program here at the University is governed by the NCAA. The University athletics program follows the rules and guidelines set by them. But the NCAA doesn’t have any guidelines for what happens when an athlete develops an eating disorder. Athletes are more likely to develop eating disorders than the rest of the student body.

This is why it’s so important for the NCAA to develop specific guidelines for how an athlete should be treated if this occurs. The NCAA has put something in place if a student’s eating disorder affects their academics. Students are allowed to apply for a waiver if they have an “education-impacting disorder.”

If a student’s eating disorder begins affecting their school work, they can apply for this waiver and can receive accommodations or adjustments through the NCAA. So the National Collegiate Athletic Association has guidelines in place for when a student-athlete’s eating disorder impacts their academics, but not when it impacts their athletics.

The University and other college athletic programs would benefit greatly by having the NCAA put some sort of guidelines in place for how to handle an eating disorder. It would make sure that athletes receive proper and consistent care from their universities. It could also hold universities accountable if they aren’t treating their athletes correctly. It would be in the best interest of the NCAA to create a procedure for all universities to follow in regards to eating disorders among their athletes.

Danielle is a junior in Education. 

dllewis2@illinois.edu

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