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DII Management Council supports financial aid concepts

After Presidents Council review, issue could be up for vote at 2017 Convention

The Division II Management Council voted Monday to support three significant changes to the division’s financial aid rules, moving the legislative concepts one step closer to a membership vote at the 2017 NCAA Convention in January.

Next week, the Division II Presidents Council will review the concepts and decide whether to sponsor them as formal proposals. 

The financial aid concepts were born out of a three-year review led by the Division II Legislation Committee.  After evaluating financial aid data, gathering membership feedback and participating in several rounds of brainstorms and debates, the committee in March landed on three recommended changes to the Division II financial aid rules:

1.     Count only athletics aid toward individual and team equivalency limits.

2.     Eliminate term-by-term financial aid awards.

3.     Permit increases in athletically related financial aid at any time and for any reason.

The Management Council, understanding the weight and complexity of the topic, discussed financial aid at length during its meeting April 18-19 in Indianapolis. “Reviewing these proposals and ensuring we make the right decisions in how to provide financial aid to student-athletes is critical,” said Jacqie McWilliams, commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and chair of the Management Council. “We have to be very thoughtful. … At the end of the day, what is the right thing to do?”

The first concept would exempt other forms of institutional aid, such as academic and need-based aid, from each sport’s equivalency limits. In doing so, student-athletes could potentially receive more nonathletics institutional financial aid without affecting a team’s scholarship allotment. The Division I Council tabled a similar membership-sponsored proposal earlier this month in order to conduct a more comprehensive review.

The second concept would require that financial aid be issued for a full academic year, with exceptions for specific cases such as student-athletes who enroll midyear or graduate at the end of the fall term. Already, 75 percent of financial aid awards in Division II are issued for a full year, according to Division II research data.

The final concept would give administrators the flexibility to increase athletics-related financial aid as they deem appropriate. Current Division II rules state that once the period of the financial aid award begins, an increase in aid must be made only for reasons unrelated to athletics. 

Other actions

Also at the April meeting, the Management Council:

  • Voted in support of a proposal that would enable Division II student-athletes in individual sports to accept prize money (up to the student-athlete’s actual and necessary expenses associated with competition) under certain circumstances after their initial full-time college enrollment, provided competition occurs outside the school’s declared playing season during its official summer vacation period. The Presidents Council will next consider whether to sponsor the proposal for Convention.
  • Voted against a recommendation that would allow a school to earmark money a student-athlete has earned through fundraising, such as by working a concession stand, to cover the student-athlete’s actual and necessary expenses associated with competition.
  • Approved expanding the regional alignment in women’s lacrosse from two regions (North and South) to four (Atlantic, East, Midwest and South). The expansion will take effect in September 2017.
  • Approved implementing conference automatic qualification for the Division II Men’s Soccer Championship, beginning in August 2017.