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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Tobias played a different role at historic NCAA National Convention

2587 days ago
Scott Carter | Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - From the day Josh Tobias unpacked the possessions he brought from his North Carolina home when he arrived at UF in the summer of 2011, he has tried to make the most of his college experience.

Most Florida fans probably only know Tobias as the Gators' primary starting third baseman the past three seasons. Tobias was a member of the All-SEC Freshman Team in 2012, helping the Gators advance to the College World Series, and last season made the SEC All-Tournament Team.

Still, there's much more to Tobias than what is tucked inside that No. 11 jersey on game day.

The 22-year-old from Greensboro, N.C., who is majoring in geological sciences/environmental geosciences, has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll the past two years. Tobias has volunteered to play games with cancer-stricken children during UF's Climb for Cancer event, participated in an annual holiday shoe drive for underprivileged kids in Alachua County, and was a National Honor Society member and student ambassador in the French Club in high school.

Safe to say Tobias has succeeded in his quest to be well-rounded.

He added another meaningful experience to his UF stay last weekend at the annual NCAA National Convention in Fort Washington, Md., located a short drive from the nation's capital.

As a member of UF's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Tobias was one of 15 Division I student-athletes from around the country selected to represent the Power Five conferences at the convention. Each of the Power Five conferences had three student-athletes on hand.

In the wake of a revamped governance structure approved by the NCAA last fall, student-athletes across all three divisions had a seat at the table - and a vote -- in the latest legislation voted on by the governing body of college athletics.

It marked the first time in the NCAA's 109-year history that student-athletes voted on issues that impact them directly.

"We made history that day,'' Tobias said. "Just being a part of that is a huge honor for me and the rest of the student-athletes. It's huge because that's just the starting block for things to move forward. These rules affect student-athletes, so I think it's important to have student-athletes vote on them and be aware of what is being put in place in their lives."

Tobias arrived for the convention well-prepared.

The student-athletes received packages on the proposed legislation more than a month ago to allow them proper time to study the topics.

"I studied those a lot,'' Tobias said. "I asked students about their opinions, I asked coaches, people that I knew. It helped me form my own opinion. I looked up a lot of the legal jargon that I didn't understand."

The most significant measure approved was the cost-of-attendance proposal designed to increase the value of a full athletic scholarship up to cost of attendance.

Meanwhile, other legislation approved included stronger concussion safety protocols.

"One of the better parts of the whole conference was when we talked about not cutting scholarships for athletic reasons," Tobias said. "A lot of the student-athletes decided to voice their opinions on it. We had a good 30- to 45-minute debate." While the new legislative structure is a change for everyone involved, from NCAA officials, school presidents, athletic directors and compliance officers, the general consensus afterward seemed to be one of acceptance.

"Nobody knows better what's good for a student-athlete than a student-athlete,'' Oliver Luck, the NCAA's incoming executive vice president for regulatory affairs and former West Virginia athletics director, told USA Today. "It's refreshing to be an adult and to have students involved in governance, because they have a little different view."

Prior to the final votes being cast, Tobias attended an SEC-only meeting, and then a meeting that included only the Power Five conferences to discuss the issues and make sure everyone was knowledgeable about the topics.

His three-day stay at the convention was a long way from McKethan Stadium, where he spent Friday morning for a preseason scrimmage.

"It was really different,'' Tobias said. "When you are an athlete, you're just used to being in the swing of things, go with the flow. That weekend allowed me to step back as an athlete and see what really happens behind the scenes and see how the real wheels work. I liked it a lot."

Tobias enjoyed the experience so much he plans to go back. The student-athletes at the convention were told they can participate for three years. While Tobias will finish his college baseball career this spring, he wants to be a part of the transition that college athletics is currently undergoing.

"Overall it was a great experience for me and just kind of eye-opening to see how things work,'' he said. "The [cost-of-attendance legislation] was the biggest topic. It doesn't affect me personally because I'm a senior and I'll be leaving, but it's good to help people down the road."