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Committee recommends Division III dues increases

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee proposes that dues rise to $2,000 for schools, $1,000 for conferences

The proposal to raise membership dues in Division III has gained momentum.

On a June 22 conference call, the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee formally proposed raising annual dues for member schools from $900 to $2,000 and from $450 to $1,000 for conferences. The Division III Management Council and Division III Presidents Council will discuss and potentially act on this recommendation in their summer meetings. If passed, the proposal will be subject to a vote at the 2016 NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, and would go into effect in August 2017. Pending a ruling from the NCAA Board of Governors, all of the additional revenue garnered from a dues increase would be Division III’s to use.

Why did the committee make the proposal? The championships policy changes made last year to balance the budget are working but are not sustainable over the entire length of the Association’s current TV broadcast agreement that ends in 2023-24. After running a championships budget deficit of roughly $800,000 for three years in a row, the division is anticipated to meet its budget for the 2014-15 year. However, the cuts – primarily championships per diem reductions – provide short-term relief, but do not allow for future per diem increases that the Division III Championships Committee believes will be necessary as hotel costs continue to escalate, thus the need for new revenue via a dues increase.

The dues have not been raised from current levels since 1985, but the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee felt it was the right time to propose a dues increase given the positive feedback the concept has garnered among members. At the 2015 Convention, for instance, 73 percent of straw poll respondents indicated they favored an increase of $900 or more.

The dues increase would generate roughly $519,000 for the division, which would allow for proposed per diem increases. When asked to suggest budget priorities in the event of a favorable budget climate in the future, the Championships Committee recommended pushing the championships per diem for athletes and personnel back to $95 from $90 and reinstituting the host per diem at a rate of $30 by 2017-18. The host per diem was eliminated entirely last year as part of the necessary cuts to championships spending, but Division III members have voiced the concern that eliminating the host per diem has put them in a bind when they host events, especially when their schools aren’t in session. In those cases, athletes don’t have access to their typical on-campus food services and have no per diem for meals.

The increased revenue from membership dues would also be used to offset an anticipated increase in the cost of the Division III Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship. The access ratio for female swimmers is currently lower than that of their male counterparts. Allowing equal access, which the Championships Committee has recommended, would increase the number of participants and therefore require additional funding. The Management Council will weigh in on the per diem increases and potential swimming and diving change at its summer meeting.

 “As a committee, we feel it’s the appropriate time to push this dues increase forward,” said Jay Lemons, chair of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee and president of Susquehanna University. “It’s clear that the membership is amenable to the increase – it’s not onerous – and the revenue gained will immediately be put to use to enhance the championships experience for our student-athletes.”

Other actions:

  • The committee recommended a budget model that runs through the end of the NCAA’s current broadcast agreement with CBS and Turner, which expires in 2023-24. The model accounts for the relatively flat growth of the deal relative to a sharper projected rise in travel costs. The model also would limit increases in the division’s non-championships budget to every other year, beginning in 2017-18.  
  • The committee approved a proposal from the Championships Committee to create a one-year charter travel pilot program for team sports in 2015-16. The cost of charter travel for NCAA championship events is covered by the division, but teams have the opportunity to purchase additional seats on the charter plane beyond their reimbursable travel party size to accommodate additional athletes, coaches and staff. Currently, the cost of the seat is equivalent to the total cost of the charter divided by the number of seats on the plane, which can exceed $1,000 per one-way ticket. The proposed pilot program would cap the cost of a one-way ticket at $350, allowing schools the financial flexibility to purchase additional seats. The program will apply to all team sports. The Management Council will take action on this recommendation at its summer meeting.
  • The committee endorsed the Division III strategic plan for the Division’s next budget biennium (2015-17), which includes non-championships funding for orientation programming for new athletic directors and commissioners, more funds for diversity and inclusion initiatives, enhanced programming for student-athletes at the NCAA Convention and, if needed, more funds for the Division III Sportsmanship and Game Environment Working Group, among other initiatives.