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DII council recommends 4 proposals

Football preseason, student-athlete awards among topics covered

Playing and practice season start dates, sports wagering penalties and student-athlete awards are the focus of four legislative proposals that received support this week from the Division II Management Council.

The proposed legislation will advance to the Division II Presidents Council in August, when the highest governing body in Division II will determine whether to sponsor the proposals for the 2018 NCAA Convention. 

Among the most heavily discussed proposals is one that stems from the elimination of two-a-day preseason practices in football, a change that occurred across the Association this spring. The new proposed legislation is intended to provide more time for Division II football teams to prepare for the season by permitting them to begin their preseason practices three days earlier. The Division II Committee for Legislative Relief already has approved a blanket waiver modifying the start date for the 2017 preseason. The proposal would codify this change for future years, enabling the first practice date to be 24 days before the first permissible contest date, or 10 days before the school’s first date of classes, whichever is earlier.

Management Council members discussed concerns around bringing football players back from summer break three days early, taking into account the division’s “life in the balance” philosophy and financial impacts on schools. Ultimately, the group voted to recommend sponsorship of the proposal for health and safety reasons.

“After eliminating two-a-days, we need to ensure adequate practice time so student-athletes are ready to compete,” said Management Council chair Gary Gray, the athletics director at Alaska Fairbanks. “All things considered, it’s a positive proposal.”

The Management Council also recommended a proposal that would provide greater flexibility for student-athletes to receive athletics-related awards. Under the proposed change, when student-athletes participate in outside competition while not representing their schools, any limitations on awards received by the athletes would be determined by the amateur organization governing the competition. Additionally, the proposal would eliminate some restrictions on types of awards that a school may give and would increase the maximum values of annual participation awards to account for inflation. The awards limits were last adjusted in 2006. Such changes mirror actions that have been taken in Divisions I and III.

A third proposal receiving Management Council support would move up the start date for women’s volleyball by one week in years in which the Division II National Championships Festival occurs in the fall. The proposed change, which likely would affect the volleyball schedule once every four years, also was submitted as a membership-sponsored proposal from the East Coast Conference and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

Finally, the council backed a proposal being considered in all three divisions that would allow each division’s student-athlete reinstatement committee to establish guidelines for review of sports wagering cases and determine penalties on an individual basis. Currently, violations that trigger the legislated sports wagering sanctions, such as online betting, automatically result in a standard penalty. The minimum penalty applies to all such violations, regardless of the amount wagered, and cannot be appealed. Sports wagering would continue to be a violation of NCAA legislation, but this proposal would allow for a case-by-case review and an appellate opportunity.

Management Council/SAAC Summit

Before the Management Council’s July 17-18 meeting in Indianapolis, the council members gathered over the weekend for their annual summit with the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The summit provides an opportunity each year for the two groups to discuss key issues in Division II, ensuring that the student-athlete voice is well-represented in the governance process. This year’s meeting included a review of the proposed legislation for the 2018 Convention; a feedback session to inform an online coaches education program that will launch in the spring; a discussion on ongoing sexual violence prevention efforts across the Association; and a lunch with a local Make-A-Wish recipient and his family.