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DII Championships Committee to review regionalization

Committee to take closer look at model implemented in 2008

The Division II Championships Committee is taking a comprehensive look at the division’s policy on regionalization, which for the past eight years has been a cornerstone of the Division II championship model.

The topic was a chief focus of the committee’s meeting last week in Indianapolis, where the group discussed the successes and challenges of regionalization and decided to review the model in the coming year.

The regionalization model ensures schools in every region of the country have access to Division II championships and was implemented in the 2008-09 academic year. The policy directs Division II sport committees to evaluate and select championship participants based on their regional results. By encouraging teams to compete against other teams within their region, the policy helps schools manage travel budgets and limit missed classes for student-athletes.

The 2013 membership census confirmed that regionalization is still considered the best model for Division II. However, since regionalization was established, schools have joined the division, left the division, switched conferences and otherwise altered the regional alignments. A total of 94 changes to the division’s landscape have impacted the makeup of various regions. Due to these changes, the Championships Committee identified a need for a larger discussion on whether the current model is still meeting its goals.

“I think it’s healthy to go back and review,” said Lisa Sweany, athletics director at Armstrong State University and chair of the committee. “Is regionalization meeting its original intention, and is it still good for DII?”

One of the biggest concerns of the current model involves schools in the same conference playing each other multiple times throughout the season and meeting again in the first round of championship play. “What we’re hearing is that institutions don’t like playing conference institutions in their first round,” Sweany said. “What can we do to try to stay within our regionalization model and yet expand it so teams aren’t playing the same team three or four times?”

The committee will seek feedback from Division II sport committees over the coming months and continue the review at its next meeting in June.

Other actions

Also at the meeting, the Championships Committee:

  • Approved a recommendation from the Division II Men’s and Women’s Soccer Committees that would change the sports’ practice start date from 17 days to 21 days before the first permissible contest. The request would also change the preseason activities to mirror the daily and weekly hour limitations during the playing season – namely, four hours per day and 20 hours per week. The Division II Management Council will review this recommendation in April and determine whether to recommend that the Presidents Council sponsor it as legislation for the 2017 NCAA Convention. 
  • Approved a recommendation from the Men’s Soccer Committee to implement automatic qualification for the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship. This recommendation takes advantage of legislation adopted at the NCAA Convention in January to allow sport committees administering championships with bracket sizes of fewer than 48 teams to apply for automatic qualification. Eighteen conferences that now sponsor men’s soccer would meet automatic-qualification requirements if they applied. The Management Council will review this recommendation at its April meeting.
  • Prioritized a number of championships-related proposals from committees seeking funding through the Division II Foundation for the Future initiative. The Championships Committee’s recommendations will be considered by the Division II Foundation for the Future Task Force at the end of March.