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DII begins academic review

Division II’s leadership began its thorough review of academic standards Thursday during a joint meeting of the Management and Presidents Council.

Over the next two years, the Academic Requirements Committee will lead a comprehensive assessment of initial-eligibility, two-year transfer and progress-toward-degree requirements.  The review is timely because of the availability of Academic Performance Census, which provides sufficient data on the academic performance of Division II student-athletes. The review also will ensure that academic requirements align with the Division II philosophy and prepare student-athletes to attain a college degree.

While the APC data will shape any decisions, the hardest work may be in determining what sort of changes Division II wants to make. 

Eckerd Athletics Director Bob Fortosis, the Management Council representative to the ARC, noted that large gains to the Division II graduation pool gained through more restrictive standards would yield high minority ineligibility rates. The ARC is striving to avoid any such disparate effects, and Thursday’s session seemed to indicate that the Management and Presidents Councils share that view.

However, a president who has been closely involved in the process said gains can be made without harming access.

“As long as we use a data-driven process, we can balance those two,” said Ernest McNealey, president of Stillman College and Presidents Council representative to the ARC.

Division II initial eligibility currently is based on a conjunctive scale, which requires student-athletes to meet two standards – a 2.0 GPA and an 820 SAT. The alternate possibilities include a sliding scale (a combination of test score and GPA), a sliding scale with a minimum GPA or a minimum GPA only. 

Though the GPA-only requirement sounds radical, the APC data show that a GPA requirement of 2.2 is not the non-starter it might appear to be. “Again, if it’s a data-driven process,” McNealey said, “it is the only one we’ve examined so far where you actually get an entire percentage point improvement in graduation rates and only marginal negatives with regard to eligibility. It’s probably going to be a hard sell, though, as it works its way through.”

Then again, almost any substantial change in this area will be a hard sell, which accounts for the protracted analysis and vetting. The ARC will develop concepts and get reactions this year from all affected Division II constituents – student-athletes, faculty, coaches, ADs, commissioners and others. Educational sessions at the 2013 Convention will focus on the topic, as will a special Chancellors and Presidents Summit, also scheduled for the 2013 Convention.

Any legislation coming from the examination probably would be considered in 2014.



Grand Valley State President Thomas Haas was elected Thursday as the new vice-chair of the Division II Presidents Council. Haas, who has been president at Grand Valley State since 2006, succeeds Pat O’Brien, who will begin his term as Presidents Council chair at the conclusion of the Convention 

Almost 95 percent of former Division II student-athletes said they would recommend their college experience to high school athletes, according to a soon-to-be-released study. A preview of the first Division II-specific version of the Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences (SCORE) showed that 76 percent of those surveyed (generally about 8 to 10 years out of college) said they would definitely recommend the experience while another 18 percent said they probably would. Almost 5,000 former student-athletes responded to the survey. The study, which examines the range of student-athlete experiences, will be released to the full membership later this year after additional data collection and adjustments are complete 

The SCORE study also asked about educational outcomes, and NCAA Chief Research Scientist Tom Paskus said the results indicate that Division II’s Academic Success Rate (73 percent) might underdescribe the ultimate graduation rate of Division II student-athletes 

Thursday’s Presidents Council meeting was the final one for Nancy Moody of Tusculum, David Rankin of Southern Arkansas and Drew Bogner of Molloy. Bogner has served as chair for the last two years 

The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee announced that it will conduct a “Week of Wishes” February 18-26 during which members will be asked to fundraise for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Division II student-athletes have raised more than $1.9 million for Make-A-Wish since 2003.