MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Tigers are not practicing this Election Day. Neither is any other Division I program.
Beginning Tuesday, and for every election day moving forward, the NCAA will not allow any practices or games to take place to ensure student-athletes get to vote.
"Our structure has changed, our schedule is changed; but so be it," head football coach Ryan Silverfield said. "That's one of the privileges of living in this country, is having that opportunity to vote and make that decision and our choices. And so I think our guys understand being empowered and being able to do it. I think it was the right thing that the NCAA did, and our conference stuck behind that decision. I think it is wonderful."
Tigers football got 76 of their players registered to vote; 56 of them are first-time voters.
Memphis may not be at practice today, but Tuesday is still a day for action.
"Even though we're football players, we're football players in the United States of America," wide receiver Calvin Austin III said. "That's why I said it's very important. Coach Silverfield kept pushing us and sharing with us how important it was to vote."
"We all understand the opportunity we have," defensive lineman Morris Joseph said. "We know that people died for us to be able to have this right. We're all happy to be able to take advantage of it."
"It's just kind of like bringing us back to reality," Austin said. "That hey, there are things going on in this country and we have the ability to voice our opinions and exercise our right to vote."
The Tigers will return to practice (and the sun will rise) Wednesday, November 4.