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Alcohol sales pilot fails to receive recommendation in DIII

Championships Committee also proposes expanded brackets in three sports, more coaches advising in golf

While Division I schools may adopt a change to allow alcohol sales at NCAA championships, it appears Division III will likely continue barring alcohol at its championship events.

At a meeting in Indianapolis, the Division III Championships Committee opted not to recommend the division pursue a change to the policy or consider the sales of beer and wine on a trial basis at Division III championships once the pilot program at the Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship is complete.

“While the feedback from the pilot program has shown that spectators are less likely to binge drink prior to games when they have access to alcohol at venues and there may be a reduction in alcohol-related citations, we believe selling alcohol may be counterproductive to our institutions’ work around student well-being,” said Jennifer Chuks, committee chair and assistant athletics director at Williams.

Division II took a similar course of action in fall 2017 when its Management Council opted not to engage in a division-specific pilot program. The Division I Council is set to vote in April on whether to permit alcohol sales at Division I championships on a permanent basis as it nears the end of a pilot program.

Alcohol is now served only at the Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship as part of the pilot program because it is held in conjunction with the Divisions I and II Men’s Lacrosse Championships. If Division I adopts a change to policy, the committee would further examine the approach to alcohol sales at joint events where alcohol sales will be available for the Division I portion of the championship.  

Though the committee did not offer a formal recommendation, the Division III Management Council will have an opportunity to discuss alcohol sales at its spring meeting, and the Championships Committee will continue to gather information on the topic.

Bracket growth

Driven by the division’s mandated championships access ratio, the Championships Committee recommended bracket expansion in three sports: women’s golf, men’s volleyball and women’s ice hockey. The women’s golf change would come at no cost — funds had already been allocated for a 26-team championship. If approved by the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee and Division III Management Council, the women’s ice hockey field would move from nine to 10 and men’s volleyball from 12 to 14.

The men’s volleyball expansion would carry an estimated $46,000 cost; however, the committee agreed to examine costs from the upcoming championship — the first year of a new format with four preliminary-round sites and only four teams advancing to the finals — before finalizing the recommendation and the budget impact. The women’s ice hockey expansion would require a $37,000 budget increase. If adopted, these changes would be implemented for the 2018-19 academic year.  

More coaches advising in golf

The Championships Committee approved a recommendation from the Division III Men’s and Women’s Golf Committees to permit up to two coaches from each team to give advice during NCAA championship competition. Only one coach is now allowed to fill that role. The rule change garnered strong support from golf coaches and athletics administrators in a recent survey and is designed to enhance the championship experience for student-athletes. The expansion would come at no cost to the division because schools would be responsible for covering the expenses for a second coach.