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DII Presidents Council endorses international membership pilot

Board of Governors will review 10-year program this spring

As an NCAA pilot program permitting international membership approaches the end of its 10-year window, the Division II Presidents Council last week affirmed its support for the program and its hope that international membership will continue to be possible in Division II.

The pilot program began in 2007, after a school in Canada expressed interest in becoming a member of the NCAA. The Executive Committee – now the Board of Governors – initially established the 10-year program to assess the benefits and challenges of Canadian membership in particular. In 2012, the committee expanded the program to include Mexico.

Although the concept was approved by an Association-wide committee, it is ultimately up to each division to determine whether it will open its membership doors to Canadian or Mexican schools. Division II is the only division that has taken that step with Canadian members, passing legislation in 2008 and later welcoming Simon Fraser University as its first international school.

Now, Presidents Council members – along with Division II Management Council and Membership Committee members in earlier meetings – are recommending that the pilot be turned into official NCAA policy when the Board of Governors reviews it in the spring.

Inside the NCAA: 2016 Fall

“We all agreed the pilot’s been successful,” said Steve Scott, president of Pittsburg State University and chair of the Presidents Council. “While there were questions going into it, those questions have been resolved.”

Scott added that Simon Fraser, which remains the only Canadian member in Division II, has been a “great partner” in the division. The pilot program, advocates say, has assisted with membership numbers in the Western region of the country, particularly among football-playing institutions. It can also help strengthen conferences and bring cultural benefits to student-athletes, they say.

Additionally, some supporters see an opportunity in Mexico. A contingent of three Western conferences is looking to revive a conversation around Mexican membership that fizzled in 2013, when a Division II proposal to permit schools in Mexico to apply for membership was defeated by Division II members. At the time, members expressed concerns around travel costs and safety. The California Collegiate Athletic Association, the Pacific West Conference and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference have formed a task force to further explore the issue. Ultimately, any movement on Mexican membership would require a membership vote.

Discussion across divisions will continue in the coming months before a decision on the pilot program must be made.

Alcohol sales at NCAA championship

The Presidents Council also voted to support a Board of Governors pilot program that will allow the sale of beer and wine at the 2017 Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship, which occurs in conjunction with the Divisions I and III championships at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The pilot program began last year, with the sale of alcohol at the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series. The Division II presidents engaged in a thorough conversation about the presence of alcohol at championships and ultimately decided to support the continuation of the pilot program to allow for the collection of more data. “It’s an important topic,” Scott said, “and people were very thoughtful about it.”

Council elections

The Presidents Council elected current vice chair Glen Jones, the president of Henderson State University, to be the next chair. Jones will begin a one-year term after the NCAA Convention in January.

The council also will welcome three new members: Connie Gores, the president of Southwest Minnesota State University; Cheryl Schrader, the chancellor of Missouri University of Science and Technology; and Anthony Jenkins, the president of West Virginia State University.

In addition, Presidents Council members approved several Management Council elections. Gary Gray, athletics director at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will be the next Management Council chair. The following people will join the Management Council in January:

  • Felicia Johnson, a senior woman administrator at Virginia Union University.
  • Chris Graham, commissioner of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
  • Josh Doody, athletics director at Notre Dame de Namur University.
  • Jessica Chapin, senior woman administrator at American International College.