Louisville’s Connie Neal played collegiate basketball eleven days before she gave birth to her daughter. Syracuse’ Fantasia Goodwin played almost an entire season while pregnant. Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Ashely Shields would pray before each game that her unborn child would not be injured. These young women are just a few of the many women who decided to play basketball while pregnant. Why did they do it? Because each was afraid that they would lose their scholarship if they told their coaches or their colleges that they were pregnant.
This all changed in 2008, when the NCAA established the Pregnancy and Parenting Policy. The policy states that a scholarship cannot be withdrawn or reduced due to pregnancy, suspected pregnancy, or termination of pregnancy. As long as the student athlete remains in good academic standing, and does not withdrawal voluntarily, their scholarship is protected. Additionally, no player is allowed to be harassed by members of the University for becoming pregnant, nor are those members allowed to try to influence the player to make certain decisions regarding her pregnancy. All medically necessary absences from team activities should be considered excused absences.
This policy is in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, including the guarantee of equal educational opportunity to pregnant and parenting students. The policy states that “our student-athletes cannot be discriminated against because of their parental or marital status, pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery.”
Since the policy was enacted, NCAA athletes have become more vocal about their pregnancies and encouraging others not to keep it a secret. University of Southern California point guard Brynn Cameron became known for having her son on the sidelines. She has since encouraged other pregnant college athletes to contact her if they need to discuss the transition from student-athlete to student-athlete-mother.
For a detailed handbook on the NCAA’s Parenting and Pregnancy Policy follow this link: http://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/PregnancyToolkit.pdf
This article used information about former pregnant athletes which can be found at: http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/24/Sports/For_pregnant_athletes.shtml