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DI Legislative Council offers restructuring feedback

Members provide advice to new group about legislative process

With the redesigned governance structure set to take effect over the next year, the Division I Legislative Council used its final in-person meeting to provide thoughts to a new group called, simply, the Council. That new committee will develop, review and approve Division I legislation.

The Legislative Council met Monday in Indianapolis – its first meeting since the Division I Board of Directors adopted in August a new governance structure that will begin to take effect in January 2015. Next week, the board is expected to appoint new board members, a new Committee on Academics and the members of the Council, a group comprised largely of athletics directors and intended to conduct the day-to-day business of the division. But other substructures, including a legislative body, will be designed later by the Council.

While the Legislative Council members did not come to a consensus on the size of the new body that performs its functions, many members preferred a smaller group with specific expertise that is also representative of the different subgroups and positions within Division I.  The members did agree that the group’s work would be critical to the success of the overall model.

“I think people are cognizant of the amount of work the Council will have. We are trying to prepare them, from a legislative perspective, as much as we can to reduce that burden,” said council chair Mary Mulvenna, associate commissioner of the America East Conference. “At the end of the day, the legislative substructure can help the council in their duties in that particular area.”

Many supported a concept that would require some Council members to serve on the legislative body along with other practitioners. That setup would ensure the spirit of a discussion is carried through the legislative process, supporters said.

One concern members raised was that while the Championships/Sport Management Cabinet will continue in some form in a new structure, the work done in the past by the cabinets (Awards Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid; Amateurism; Administration; and Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues) will now be the responsibility of the Council. One possible solution voiced by council members would be to create short-tenured “ad hoc” groups to deal with specific, short-term issues. Those groups could be populated by some members from governance groups like the Council or the legislative body and others from relevant groups within the membership.

Process was also important to the group, including some who wanted to be sure that certain functions within the current processes – such as interpretive requests and legislative relief – don’t get lost in the restructuring. Within the new committee structure, the 65 schools within the five core conferences will have the authority to interpret the rules they pass and determine whether to grant relief from a rule they put in place.

“There are appropriate concerns for how autonomy issues are handled, both within that group of schools and within shared governance,” Mulvenna said. “I anticipate the substructure will assist in those areas.”

The Council will have its initial meeting at the 2015 NCAA Convention in Washington, D.C. A subsequent meeting will take place in early February.