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DII Management Council discusses football practice guidelines

Members consider steps to help DII schools follow updated safety recommendations

On the heels of the release of new NCAA football practice guidelines, the Division II Management Council on Wednesday discussed next steps the division might take to ensure schools are able to follow the latest health and safety recommendations.

The Management Council meeting took place during the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, one day after the NCAA released the new guidelines addressing contact in football practices throughout the year. The Year-Round Football Practice Contact Recommendations serve as an update to guidelines published in 2014 and are a product of the second Safety in College Football Summit held in February 2016.

Included in the guidelines are a series of recommendations for the football preseason – a window when student-athletes are more at risk for concussions and other injuries, emerging data show. The Division II Management Council discussion revolved around one preseason recommendation to eliminate two-a-day practices, which are now permitted in Division II. In April, the Division II Presidents Council will explore emergency legislation to address two-a-day practices in the division. 

Some Management Council members noted two-a-days are already uncommon in Division II. “In talking with some of the football coaches, I get the feeling that they have already gotten away from two-a-days,” said Scott Swain, the athletics director at Notre Dame College (Ohio). “We may be meeting two times, but the second time is not a practice.”

Still, for schools that have traditionally scheduled two-a-days, adjustments may need to be made to ensure student-athletes obtain the necessary skill set for competitive play. The guidelines state the preseason may be extended by one week in the calendar year to accommodate lost practice time from the elimination of two-a-days; however, such a change would require a legislative vote if the extension is on the front end of the season. 

The Management Council, Presidents Council and other membership groups this week and in the coming months will continue to explore long-term options for providing football teams practice time in response to the guidelines, either on the front end or the back end of the season. In the meantime, the Management Council expressed support for a potential waiver schools could obtain this fall that would allow flexibility with their football preseason start dates. Ultimately, such a waiver would need to be approved by the Division II Committee for Legislative Relief.

The conversation will continue Thursday at the Presidents Council meeting.

Other actions

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Management Council:

  • Discussed feedback on the Convention proposals Division II delegates will vote on Saturday.
  • Recommended the Presidents Council approve various allocations totaling more than $2.7 million from the 2015-16 budget surplus, as proposed by the Division II Planning and Finance Committee. The allocations would include a supplemental distribution totaling $915,000 to 304 Division II schools.
  • Recognized five outgoing members of the council: Jacqie McWilliams, commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Management Council chair; Doug Blais, faculty athletics representative at Southern New Hampshire University; Tom Bullock, faculty athletics representative at the University of the District of Columbia; Bob Hogue, commissioner of the Pacific West Conference; and Rich Loosbrock, faculty athletics representative at Adams State University.