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DII council supports proposal on Mexican schools

Second membership proposal on volleyball start date opposed

The Division II Presidents Council this week voted to endorse a proposal that would enable colleges and universities in Mexico to apply for Division II membership. The council opposed a proposal that would move up the start date for women’s volleyball in years in which the Division II National Championships Festival occurs in the fall.

Both proposals were sponsored by the membership and will be voted on by members at the 2018 NCAA Convention in January in Indianapolis, along with three Presidents Council-sponsored proposals.

The Presidents Council took official positions on the proposals at its Oct. 24-25 meeting on the UCLA campus, where the NCAA’s top governing bodies in each division convened concurrently.

The affirmative stance on the proposal to allow schools in Mexico to seek Division II membership serves as the council members’ latest stamp of approval on a concept they have reviewed at length over the last year. In the spring, the council supported a move by the NCAA Board of Governors to codify a decadelong NCAA pilot program on international membership into a formal policy, ensuring that each division can determine whether to grant membership to schools in Canada and Mexico.

Division II is the only division that has added a school from outside the U.S. in the 10 years of the pilot. The division passed legislation in 2008 to allow membership applications from schools in Canada and welcomed British Columbia’s Simon Fraser into its multiyear membership process that same year.

The Convention will mark the second time Division II has considered adding Mexico schools to the mix: In 2013, the division’s delegates defeated a similar proposal, with some administrators citing concerns about travel costs and safety. The new proposal was submitted by three conferences in the West: the California Collegiate Athletic Association, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Pacific West Conference. Already, at least one school in Mexico, CETYS Universidad, has expressed serious interest in joining the division and, likely, one of those conferences.

Last week the Division II Management Council backed the proposal, noting that such a legislative change would allow schools to apply to join the division and would not guarantee membership. The Presidents Council echoed those sentiments.

“We’ve had 10 years of looking at data with the international membership pilot, and we’ve seen that there are other high-quality institutions that are beyond the borders of the U.S. that would like to be a part of the NCAA,” said Glen Jones, Henderson State president and chair of the Presidents Council. “This just paves the way for that to become a reality while staying within all of the boundaries of the NCAA.”

Volleyball start date

The council cited concerns about time demands in opposing the volleyball proposal. Submitted by the East Coast Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the proposal would allow volleyball teams to start the season one week earlier in years in which the Division II National Championships Festival occurs in the fall, a situation that takes place every four years. Because of established dates for the festivals, volleyball teams lose a week of competition in those years.

While the Management Council supported the proposal for its permissive nature — schools would not be required to start earlier, but simply be allowed to — the Presidents Council expressed concern about it being a slippery slope that could contradict Division II’s commitment to providing a balanced college experience. The presidents and chancellors previously had voiced their disapproval in August, when the concept first came to the group for consideration.

“Anything that encroaches on ‘life in the balance’ has to be reviewed very carefully and not just for the issue before us, but also for the implications it can have on other sports,” Jones said. “A big part of this also is, we listen closely to our student-athletes when they express concern about the amount of time they have to devote to athletics.”

Other actions

Also at the meeting, the Presidents Council:

  • Voted not to pursue a Division II-specific pilot program to sell beer and wine at select championships. The vote came on the heels of a Board of Governors decision to allow each division to pursue its own alcohol sales legislation and policies. 
  • Re-elected Jones as Presidents Council chair.
  • Ratified the election of Pennie Parker, athletics director at Rollins, as the next chair of the Division II Management Council.

Ratified the elections of seven other administrators to the Management Council: Michael Cerino, athletics director at Limestone; Jim Sarra, athletics director at Illinois-Springfield; Teresa Clark, faculty athletics representative at Cedarville; Amy Foster, senior woman administrator at Seattle Pacific; Jim Johnson, athletics director at Pittsburg State; Hannah Hinton, associate commissioner at the Mountain East Conference; and Julie Rochester, faculty athletics representative at Northern Michigan.