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Administration Cabinet: Rules governing reclassification deserve close look

The four-year process for schools reclassifying as DI doesn’t affect only them; it also impacts their DI opponents

The rules that govern the reclassification process for schools hoping to join Division I might get a fresh look after the division wraps up its restructuring.

The Division I Administration Cabinet, which met Feb. 19-20 in Indianapolis, discussed a number of issues that deal with schools reclassifying from Division II to Division I. That process, as revised in 2010, includes a four-year period in which a school is ineligible for championships and must progress toward meeting all Division I membership requirements.

Since 2012, the Division I Board of Directors has declined to consider new legislation until after the division completes its plans to put in place a new system for setting policy. So while the Administration Cabinet did not take action to sponsor rule changes on the reclassification issues, members  feel these issues should be discussed after a new governance structure is in place.

“We had some really useful discussion on issues connected with reclassifying institutions and made the decision to, perhaps at a future time, see if the membership would like to reconsider some of these issues,” said Connie Hurlbut, deputy commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference and chair of the Administration Cabinet. “None of the items we were looking at could be considered individually; they had to be part of a bigger discussion.”

Some of the issues before the cabinet have caused confusion for opponents of reclassifying schools; others were considered because they touch on the points in the process when reclassifying schools can be considered Division I. Specifically, the cabinet discussed:

Confusion about whether reclassifying schools count as Division I opponents during their first year in the process.

NCAA staff informed the cabinet that the association had issued a blanket waiver for Division I basketball scheduling requirements for the 2013-14 academic year. The waiver permits schools to schedule more than the maximum four basketball contests permitted each season against non-Division I opponents.

The waiver was approved because some Division I members were confused about when reclassifying institutions can count on their game schedules as Division I schools. Currently, reclassifying schools cannot count as Division I opponents until the second year of the process.

The confusion, staff noted, might be exacerbated by a separate policy that allows those reclassifying institutions who are in the first year of the process to be included in the Division I Ratings Percentage Index – the formula used to rank teams based on their record and the strength of their schedules – if they can demonstrate that they expect to meet Division I scheduling requirements.

The Administration Cabinet decided that staff should continue to educate member schools about scheduling requirements.

 

The fairness of the penalty for failing to meet Division I scheduling requirements.

Currently, schools that schedule too many non-Division I opponents lose a year of championships eligibility. The cabinet reaffirmed its support of the scheduling requirements, but members agreed that the penalty for not meeting the requirement should perhaps be revisited after a new Division I governance structure is in place.

 

Scheduling requirements for institutions in first year of reclassification.

The cabinet discussed whether the schools should count as Division I opponents in their first year, considering that Division I now requires the schools to join a conference before entering the process. Conferences generally integrate the new member immediately into the conference schedule.

 

Championships eligibility for reclassifying institutions.

The cabinet also discussed the current rule that prohibits reclassifying schools from competing in Division I championships before they have completed the four-year process.

Currently, a school cannot compete in Division I championships – at any level – until reclassification is complete. The cabinet members reaffirmed their support for the current rule, noting that the rationale for the rule was well-founded but acknowledging that a new governance structure might reconsider issues related to reclassification.