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Council opposes liberalizing grad transfers in DIII

Division’s philosophy emphasizes undergraduate experience, members note

The Division III Presidents Council voted to oppose a membership-sponsored proposal that would permit a student-athlete with remaining eligibility to participate as a graduate student at a school other than the one he or she attended as an undergraduate.

The Presidents Council made the decision Thursday at its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis. The proposal was sponsored by the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Little East Conference. In Division III, any proposal sponsored by two or more conferences is voted on by the division’s membership at the NCAA Convention.

Inside the NCAA: 2016 Fall

In opposing the proposal, the council cited concerns with how it meshes with the Division III philosophy, which states that Division III colleges and universities “primarily focus on intercollegiate athletics as a four-year, undergraduate experience.” It also discussed concerns about permitting coaches to seek out students who would spend one year of their eligibility at a Division III school rather than remaining focused on recruiting students who would get the complete four-year Division III experience.

“What we wrestled with was what was best for the student-athlete and taking their situation into consideration,” said Alan Cureton, chair of the Presidents Council and president of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. “We want to protect that primary four-year experience for the student. In our view, we were looking at it from the students’ perspective in protecting their experience and their time on our campuses.”

Current legislation permits graduate or post-baccalaureate students to participate as graduate students only at the college or university from which they received their undergraduate degrees. A waiver to pursue graduate studies at another school and continue to compete in college sports can be granted when a student has completed an undergraduate degree ahead of schedule while upholding a 3.0 cumulative GPA. The council expressed general satisfaction with that current standard, while being open to reviewing the waiver criteria if necessary. 

In other Division III Presidents Council discussion:

  • Travel expenses for Division III championships were down about 3.8 percent in 2015-16, thanks to lower fuel prices and less need for charter flights to transport teams. At the end of the fiscal year, championships competition in Division III cost less than anticipated, resulting in a budget surplus of $2.1 million more than planned.
  • The Presidents Council voted to support a Board of Governors pilot program that will allow the sale of beer and wine at the 2017 Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship, which will be held in conjunction with the men’s lacrosse championships for Divisions I and II at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The pilot program began last year with the sale of alcohol at the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series, both Division I championships. The council had a robust discussion about the impact of allowing alcohol sales at its championships and voted to move forward with the proposal because it is a pilot project and involves other divisions. Data will be collected at the lacrosse championships to determine whether allowing alcohol inside the venue is safer and less troublesome than forbidding it, which can cause some spectators to overconsume outside the venue.
  • The Presidents Council also received a report from the NCAA Board of Governors about the next steps in the ongoing discussion of the composition of the Board of Governors, which is now made up of 12 voting members from Division I and two each from Divisions II and III. The board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Structure and Governance will craft a recommendation for the makeup of the Board of Governors and deliver it no later than April.