ICA 407: Pregnant Student-Athletes
To protect the health, confidentiality, and scholarship status of student-athletes who become pregnant
To enable them to continue to participate in their sport to the fullest extent feasible
To provide medical providers, coaches, and administrators with uniform guidelines that address this issue
NCAA 2008-09 Sports Medicine Handbook, Guideline 3b: “Participation by the Pregnant Student-Athlete,” revised June 2008
NCAA Division I Manual, Constitution, Article 220.127.116.11
Vice president for University Athletics
Arizona State University’s (ASU) Intercollegiate Athletics Department (ICA) works with the sports medicine department of Campus Health Services to protect the health and safety of all student-athletes. Because pregnancy places unique challenges on the student-athlete, the ICA has developed this policy for student-athletes who become pregnant.
No coach or other athletics department staff shall suggest to any female student-athlete that if she becomes pregnant this will affect in any way her continued participation on a team. A student-athlete who learns that she is pregnant or who suspects that she might be pregnant is strongly encouraged to advise her physician on ICA’s sports medicine staff as soon as possible, in addition to any personal or private physician from whom she is also receiving medical care or treatment.
A student-athlete’s right to privacy is the same for pregnancy as it is for any other personal medical information. The notification of pregnancy to a sports medicine physician will be kept in strictest confidence until such time as there is a medical reason to withhold the student-athlete from competition. Information on the student’s pregnancy will not be shared with other students. Such information will not be shared with the student’s coaches, athletic trainers, parents or guardian, or her sexual partner without the student’s express and informed consent. The decision to inform her coaches about her pregnancy will remain within the discretion of the student-athlete. If coaches and trainers are informed, they are directed to maintain the confidentiality of this information.
The ICA does encourage student-athletes who become pregnant to inform their head coach and athletic trainer of this fact, but the ICA does not require any student-athlete to reveal or disclose her pregnancy or parenting status. A student-athlete who becomes pregnant may also want to inform her sexual partner, family members, religious adviser, personal physician, and others close to her.
Coaches and athletic trainers should not counsel the student-athlete on pregnancy issues—such as parenting, adoption, or terminating a pregnancy. Confidential counseling is available to the student-athlete through ASU’s Campus Health Services, or by or through the student-athlete’s private physician, or by or through ASU’s Counseling and Consultation Service (C&C). Such counseling can help support the student-athlete while she is adjusting to being pregnant, making decisions about carrying the pregnancy to term, and considering the impact of these decisions on her life.
The ICA considers pregnancy the same as any other temporary medical condition. Medical issues related to participation in athletic training and competition during pregnancy shall be discussed with the student-athlete by an ASU sports medicine physician, as would any other temporary medical condition. A participation plan for the student-athlete shall be created and agreed upon by the applicable sports medicine physician and the student-athlete. Documentation outlining the student-athlete’s medical condition, the potential risks of athletic participation during pregnancy, and the student-athlete’s understanding of these risks shall be included in the student’s medical record in the form of a signed informed consent. A pregnant student-athlete shall be permitted to participate fully in athletic training and/or competition with the prior approval of the student’s obstetrician and the team’s ASU sports medicine physician. Such participation shall not be permitted if the student-athlete’s obstetrician or an ASU sports medicine physician certifies that participation is not medically safe.
Following delivery or pregnancy termination, and as with any other temporary medical condition, medical clearance will be required before the student-athlete will be permitted to return to practice or competition to ensure that it is safe for the student-athlete to do so. The ICA will help the student-athlete return to her sport after pregnancy and during parenting if the student-athlete so desires. The ICA will also help the pregnant and parenting student-athlete plan for continued academic progress in accordance with the university’s academic mission.
As with any other nonathletic-related medical condition, ICA’s medical insurance coverage does not cover pregnancy-related care. The ICA will help the pregnant student-athlete to access the pregnancy and parenting support resources that are available to all students at ASU. If a pregnant student-athlete is enrolled in ASU’s supplemental health insurance plan, she will be advised by Campus Health Services whether that plan covers pregnancy. If the student-athlete has her own private health insurance coverage, a healthcare provider can follow her on that insurance plan. If she has no health insurance coverage, she will be further advised of her options by ASU’s Campus Health Services.
When a student-athlete is pregnant and informs the ICA of this fact through notification of the appropriate sports medicine physician and does not voluntarily withdraw from her sport, her scholarship will remain in place for the remainder of the granting year, July 1–June 30. In addition, NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 provides that “[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.” In order for ASU to invoke this provision, the student-athlete will need to authorize disclosure of her pregnancy to her coach and sports administrator.
ASU will not refuse to renew a student’s athletic-related financial aid on the ground that the student is or was pregnant. However, pregnant student-athletes who receive athletic-related financial aid are advised that voluntary withdrawal from their sport could result in a loss of scholarship.
This ICA policy does not address ASU institutional grants-in-aid requirements. A pregnant student-athlete who also is receiving an institutional scholarship should contact the Student Financial Assistance Office (SFAO) to determine whether and how the pregnancy affects that scholarship.
A male college student, including male student-athletes, whose partner becomes pregnant will also face important challenges and decisions. Although not enduring the physical changes associated with pregnancy, the male college student may experience psychological stress associated with his concerns for the health and safety of his pregnant partner and her fetus. He may also question his readiness for fatherhood and his ability to face the personal and financial obligations of fatherhood. In these circumstances, we encourage a male student-athlete to discuss these issues with his pregnant partner, family members, religious adviser, personal physician, and others close to him, and to join and support his partner in seeking assistance to work through the decisions must be made. The ICA will work with any male student-athlete who needs time away from his sport to counsel and support his pregnant partner. As is the case with a pregnant student-athlete, confidential counseling can be provided by or through ASU’s Campus Health Services or C&C.
Other student-athletes may experience psychological stress associated with the pregnancy of a friend or loved one. Student-athletes are encouraged to seek assistance and support to work through the emotional circumstances they may be dealing with. As is the case with a pregnant student-athlete, confidential counseling can be provided by or through ASU’s Campus Health Services or C&C.
Any member of the ICA found to have violated this policy, or who retaliates against anyone who complains about a violation of this policy, will be subject to disciplinary action as determined by the vice president for University Athletics. This policy will be regularly reviewed by the SWA, the head team physician, the associate athletics director for Administration and Compliance, the head athletic trainer, and the faculty athletics representative, and updated when necessary.
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