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DII to consider major changes to membership, recruiting regulations

By David Pickle

When Division II delegates adjourn their business session Saturday, they may have significantly new approaches on the books for recruiting and conference membership.

The Division II legislative docket for the 2012 Convention is not large – only 16 proposals, all from the Presidents Council – but the matters under consideration pack a punch.

The potential changes to recruiting would permit all forms of electronic contact – everything from telephone calls to text messages to faxes – on an unlimited basis after June 15 before the prospect’s junior year.

If the measure passes, it will be a landmark shift in philosophy for Division II recruiting, which has featured restrictions on phone calls and other forms of communication since NCAA rules were federated in 1997-98. 

The traditional reason for the restrictions has been to protect prospective student-athletes from unwanted intrusions on their privacy and time. However, in discussing ways to ease administrative burden, the Division II Management Council concluded at its summer 2011 meeting that the restrictions likely made prospective student-athletes less informed about their college choices than their non-athlete peers.

The Division II Presidents Council subsequently agreed, and the result is Proposal Nos. 2012-11, 12 and 13. The combined effect would be to establish the beginning contact date of June 15 before the prospect’s junior year and to eliminate restrictions on the number of in-person and electronic contacts during permissible recruiting periods.

Division II’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has sought detailed feedback from student-athletes across the nation and now supports the proposals. However, the SAAC also had concerns about coaches potentially abusing the new opportunity and developed a list of best practices to address that concern if the legislation passes.

The other major legislative package pertains to regulations governing conference membership. Those proposals – Nos. 2012-8, 9 and 10 – would:

  • Require a new member conference to contain at least 10 institutions, effective Aug. 1, 2013.
  • Require a new member conference to contain at least 10 active members to become an active conference, effective Aug. 1, 2013.
  • Provide the Management Council with the authority to place an annual limit on the number of applicant conferences that could be invited to active membership.
  • Require member conferences, effective Aug. 1, 2017, to be composed of at least eight active member institutions (waiver provision provided).
  • Require member conferences, effective Aug. 1, 2022, to be composed of at least 10 active member institutions (waiver provision provided).
  • Increase from two years to five the waiting period for a new Division II conference to become eligible for automatic qualification (two years for an active conference adding a sport), effective Aug. 1, 2013.
  • Create a three-year grace period for conferences falling no more than one institution below the minimum membership requirement during which the conference would continue to qualify for full membership privileges.
  • Require that an active Division II conference (or a conference applying for Division II membership) must have taken action to allow an institution to join the conference as a full member before that institution can be considered for active membership.

In addition, delegates will consider legislation to require testing for sickle cell trait (No. 2012-14) and a proposal that would modify the timing of the winter break that was established in the 2010 Life in the Balance package (No. 2012-15).

Not all business will pertain to legislation. During a Thursday morning joint meeting of the Presidents Council, Management Council and SAAC, the groups will discuss Division II-specific information from the latest NCAA Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences (SCORE). The most recent study included several Division II-specific questions and should provide insight into how the student-athlete experience matches the Division II platform.

Also, during a meeting later Thursday, the Presidents and Management Councils will review Division II academic standards (initial-eligibility, progress-toward-degree and two-year transfer regulations). It is part of a process directed by the Division II Academic Requirements Committee that will lead to a Presidents and Chancellors Summit in conjunction with the 2013 Convention and possible legislation at the 2014 Convention.

A special part of the Division II program this year will be two presentations Friday by astronaut Sandra Magnus, a former student-athlete at Missouri S&T. She will address delegates at the Division II education session at 9:45 a.m. and also Division II chancellors and presidents at their luncheon at noon.

Education Sessions

Division II-Focused Association-wide Session (Thursday, Jan. 12, 2:15-3:45 p.m.)

  • Examining the NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Experience through the NCAA GOALS Study. This session will provide participants with a look at the results from the most recent iteration of the GOALS study, specifically as it relates to the Division II student-athlete experience. The session will help build an understanding of factors affecting college choice, academic and social experiences for Division II student-athletes, including recruitment, choice of majors, expectations and satisfaction. The session will also cover other important issues, such as ethics and ethical leadership, including Division II student-athletes’ perception of how respectfully they are treated by their coaches and the overall values of their institutions. A panel will share their different perspectives on the richness of the overall Division II student-athlete experience.

General Membership Education Session (Friday, Jan. 13, 8:30-9:30 a.m.)

  • Title IX and Gender Equity – Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Janet Judge will open the session by providing participants with an update on the most recent case law and issues to track on related to Title IX and Gender Equity. In addition, a panel has been assembled with the staff of a Division II member institution recently subject to a Title IX investigation by the Office of Civil Rights. Each member of the panel will be able to share different perspectives on the process and outcomes, including best practices to prepare for an OCR visit and lessons learned from the investigation.

Division II General Session (Friday, Jan. 13, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.)

  • Division II General Session. Rick Cole of Dowling, chair of the Division II Management Council will provide the membership with an update on key Division II initiatives. The session will also feature astronaut and former Missouri S&T student-athlete Sandra Magnus.

Breakout Education Sessions (Friday, Jan. 13, 11 a.m.-noon)

  • Making the Most of the NCAA Division II Financial Dashboard Indicators Tool. During this hands-on working session, participants will learn how to best use the Division II financial dashboard indicators tool. The session will feature experts who will provide participants with the practical aspects of the tool (how to compare institutions, how to create reports, etc.) while allowing computer access for attendees to work, practice with and experience the different features available.
  • Violence Prevention and Tools for Bystanders. This session will focus on exploring current issues with violent behavior and the impact on our athletics programs, including student-athletes. Participants will be able to discuss the issue, learn best practices, as well as additional educational opportunities centered on the topic of violence prevention. Join us in an interactive discussion centered on the best way to protect and preserve the well-being of our student-athletes. 
  • Updates on Initiatives of CoSIDA and National Athletic Trainers Association. This session is intended to provide the membership at large (directors of athletics, conference commissioners, senior woman administrators, faculty athletics representatives, compliance administrators) with an overview and update on the work two important collegiate athletics organizations.  Representatives from the College Sports Information Directors of America will talk about the evolution of the organization as strategic communicators for college athletics. The session will also feature an overview and most recent information from the National Athletic Trainers Association.