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DI board backs transfer proposal, suspends academic penalties

Effects of pandemic lead to Academic Performance Program changes for two years

The Division I Board of Directors strongly supports legislation that would allow all Division I student-athletes the opportunity to transfer and compete immediately, regardless of the sport they play. The board met virtually Wednesday.

“It’s time to provide uniform transfer flexibility to Division I student-athletes,” said board chair Denise Trauth, president at Texas State. “The board members agree that the Working Group on Transfers created a sensible proposal that provides all student-athletes, no matter what sport they play, the opportunity for academic and athletic pursuits at the school that is the best fit.” 

Trauth was officially elected chair during Wednesday’s meeting and has served on an interim basis since the summer.

The transfer rule change was introduced into the legislative cycle earlier this month by the Division I Council. It was recommended by the Working Group on Transfers, which has been studying the issue since May, when Council members resolved to address transfer issues by January 2021.

The Council expects to meet that deadline, with a vote scheduled for its January meeting.

Academic Performance Program

The board also suspended the application of Academic Progress Rate penalties for two years, as recommended by the Division I Committee on Academics. Schools also will not be subject to a loss of postseason competition due to low Academic Progress Rates during the same time period.

The impact of the pandemic on APR data and the variability in underlying factors contributing to the data led the board members to agree with the recommendation by the Committee on Academics to suspend penalties associated with the program.  

APR data will not be publicly released in spring 2021 or spring 2022 and the historical public recognition of teams that earn APRs in the top 10% for their sport for those years will not occur. Members still will have access to their data, and the APR still will be one of the ways to earn the academic unit financial distribution. 

The APR is a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of team members each term. It was created in 2003 as a more immediate way to measure academic performance than graduation rates. The current benchmark for APR penalties is 930, which roughly predicts a 50% graduation rate. 

Penalties include reductions to athletically related activities and playing seasons, encouraging teams to devote to academic activities the time that would have been spent on athletics. Teams also must earn a minimum 930 APR to participate in the postseason.

Sustainability

Board members heard from the Division I Presidential Forum about its work on the sustainability of Division I. Work will initially center in the areas of finances, legal, governance and membership requirements. Forum members met in small groups and acknowledged many of the areas are intertwined and will require collaboration, particularly given the growing resource gap between schools within the division.  

Conferences also will be intimately involved in the examination of the future of the division, and forum members are committed to additional meetings. The forum intends to provide an initial report to the board in April.

Championships finance review

Board members also heard from the Division I Finance Committee, which this week approved several policy changes to provide opportunities to efficiently manage championships resources. At the recommendation of the Division I Championships Finance Review Working Group, committee members:

  • Approved the creation of a budgetary timeline (not to exceed two years) between when a new sport reaches the sponsorship threshold and when the first championship is conducted.
  • Approved the creation of a process and principles to manage future requests to manage squad, travel party and bench size.
  • Approved the creation of principles to guide decisions related to bracket/field size.
  • Approved the creation of a process for future resource allocations.
  • Approved the creation of gender equity principles to apply when developing recommendations impacting championships administration and funding.

Name, image and likeness

The board also received an update on the name, image and likeness legislation introduced by the Council earlier this month. Members provided feedback on various subjects, including the involvement of boosters and how to best protect student-athletes while not intruding on their ability to profit from their names, images and likenesses.