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DII Management Council gets new take on financial aid

Education continues around 3 proposals that will be voted on at Convention

Sometimes, the best way to learn is by doing – a concept Division II Management Council members were reminded of Monday when they stepped into the shoes of their compliance officer peers for an educational activity on financial aid.

The activity, which took place during the Management Council meeting in Indianapolis, required the athletics administrators to analyze the financial aid awards of a fictitious Division II team and determine which awards would count toward the individuals’ and team’s scholarship limits. The council members got an up-close view of the complexities that compliance and financial aid officers navigate on a daily basis – and gained a deeper understanding of the potential impacts a trio of financial aid proposals could have if adopted at the 2017 NCAA Convention in January.

By now, the Management Council is well-versed in the proposals, which were born out of a three-year review by the Division II Legislation Committee and have been thoroughly discussed at every level of Division II governance. The three changes on the table are to count only institutional athletics aid toward individual and team equivalency limits; eliminate term-by-term financial aid awards; and permit increases in athletically related financial aid at any time for any reason. Both the Management and Presidents Councils sponsored the proposals last summer, ensuring they would go to a membership vote in January.

Yet the work on these proposals is far from over. Even for those who deal with financial aid on a regular basis, understanding the nuances of the current legislation and the proposed changes can be difficult. The nature of the topic makes education among Division II members crucial. That education continued this week with the Management Council members, including many who said they gained a new perspective on the financial aid proposals.

“Before this exercise, I didn’t understand the impact or potential impact of the proposals,” said Eric Schoh, athletics director at Winona State University. “Instead of just talking in concepts, the exercise gave us real information to go through and say, ‘How do you do this on your campus?’”

The administrators were given a mock roster of student-athletes receiving various types of financial awards, including athletics-based aid, academic aid, need-based aid and aid from other outside sources. They then had to calculate the team’s equivalencies, based on current legislation.

The activity was created by the Division II Academic and Membership Affairs staff and is being presented at NCAA Regional Compliance Seminars around the country and other compliance-related meetings. Thus far, just one group out of 20 has calculated the equivalencies correctly, highlighting the widespread confusion of the current legislation. The activity also illustrates the ways in which the proposed legislation would make the equivalency calculations easier by exempting nonathletics-based aid. “The more things you have to deal with, the more opportunities you have to make a mistake,” Schoh added. “And this new legislation makes it a lot simpler.”

Still, concerns about gamesmanship and competitive equity remain among some Division II members. “When we actually get to that vote, I do think there will be some discussion,” said Kim Vinson, associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Cameron University. “It gets back to the haves versus the have-nots. It gets back to, do you legislate for those who are going to abuse, or do you legislate for the good of the whole?”

Other actions

Also at the meeting, the Management Council:

  • Voted in support of a membership-sponsored proposal that would revise the recruiting calendar in football to begin the winter contact period on the Monday after Thanksgiving. The proposal will be up for a membership vote at the Convention in January.
  • Voted against recommending the Presidents Council sponsor a proposal for the 2018 NCAA Convention that would require Division II schools to designate an individual as the athletics department resource for questions related to NCAA-banned substances and nutritional supplements.