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NCAA Day of Rest Defeated by One Letter

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BUIES CREEK — College athletes will not get a seventh day of rest. A campaign backed by Campbell University to eliminate NCAA play on Sunday nearly passed. If 100 schools had written to support that campaign, the NCAA would have said okay. But only 99 letters came.

Campbell was founded in 1887. In its 111 year history, it has never held a sporting event on Sunday. Now the NCAA says Campbell has a decision to make. They can either play or forfeit during a championship game.

Campbell soccer players are teaching youth camps this summer, passing along the skills they hope will get them to a playoff in December. Winning a national title is every college team's goal. But the NCAA's championship soccer game is scheduled for a Sunday this year.

"It puts us in a very difficult position," says athletic director Tom Collins. "It puts us in the position of having to tell our student athletes that they cannot play, and that is a difficult position. We think the institution's principles and policies are very important."

During the regular season, the NCAA accommodates schools whose religious beliefs keep them from playing on Sunday. It decided recently that schools must play or forfeit championship games played on Sundays.

"Doing something that's right, you're always torn," explains athlete Courtney Gilman. "I feel bad. I feel that God will bless you for doing what you think is right."

Campbell left the Big South conference in 1994 when it refused to accommodate the school's no Sunday play policy. In 1992, Campbell's men's basketball team won a berth in the NCAA Tournament. It requested a Thursday-Saturday play-off spot. But, under the new policy, the NCAA won't honor those requests, leaving some students torn between their beliefs and a shot at a national title.

"It's up to what our athletic director decides to do," says athlete Briana Sandburg. "It's up to him. But I would rather play."

The fight isn't over yet. The university was able to get the issue on the ballot for a January NCAA meeting in San Antonio, Texas. There will be representatives there from 312 Division I. schools. If Campbell can get a majority vote, the school will be able to make the NCAA honor the no play on Sunday policy.

The NCAA established play on Sunday because there is more television exposure on that day. Also, they believe it is good for the athlete to have him or her finish up a championship on a Sunday, getting the student back in classes on Monday.


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