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DII Presidents Council supports two membership-sponsored proposals

Proposals on football and basketball camps, medical services for unattached athletes endorsed

The Division II Presidents Council voted to support two legislative proposals sponsored by the Division II membership for the 2019 NCAA Convention, endorsing changes to rules related to the timing of football and basketball camps and medical care for student-athletes competing unattached from their schools.

The Presidents Council took formal positions on all four membership-sponsored proposals during its meeting Oct. 23-24 on the Rollins campus in Winter Park, Florida. Last week, the Division II Management Council took its positions on the proposals. The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also will weigh in at its meeting in November before the proposed legislation goes to a membership vote in January.  

The first proposal supported by the Presidents Council would loosen restrictions on the timing of football and basketball camps and clinics. Currently, camps and clinics for the two sports can only be held during the school’s summer vacation period — restrictions that do not apply to other sports. The proposed legislation would permit schools to conduct camps and clinics at any time, but it would prohibit student-athletes from working camps in all sports during the seven-day legislated winter break, to ensure student-athletes have time away from campus during the winter break.

The proposal, sponsored by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the East Coast Conference, was viewed by both the Presidents Council and Management Council as a change that would provide more equity among sports and provide greater opportunities for local kids to participate in camps and clinics.

The second proposal supported by the Presidents Council would allow a school’s medical personnel to provide athletic training support or medical services to student-athletes who are competing unattached from the school at a competition site. Currently, student-athletes competing unattached — most common in the sports of wrestling, swimming and diving, and track and field — are not permitted to receive medical services from their school’s personnel who may be at the event. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the Great Lakes Valley Conference sponsored the proposal, stating that student-athletes competing unattached should be allowed to receive medical care from athletic trainers or other staff who have prior knowledge of their body and past injuries.

“The council felt that since this was permissive legislation, it really left it to the discretion of each institution to determine whether or not these services will be provided,” said Glen Jones, chair of the Division II Presidents Council and president of Henderson State. 

Last week, the Management Council took no position on the proposal and noted that, if adopted, each college or university should review its insurance coverage and internal policies and procedures, consulting with legal counsel as needed, to decide how to provide medical services to student-athletes competing unattached.

The Presidents Council opposed two other proposals, citing concern about how the changes might impact student-athlete time demands and contradict the Division II “life in the balance” philosophy. One proposal would increase the permissible time allotment for team activities outside the playing season for all sports but football from two hours to four hours a week. The sponsors, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, emphasized that while the time limit for team activities would increase under their proposal, the overall permissible time — eight hours — for countable athletically related activities per week during the offseason would remain the same. However, both the Presidents Council and the Management Council expressed concern that this proposal would replace hours spent on strength and conditioning activities with practice time. Council members believed this could result in student-athletes feeling pressure to engage in strength and conditioning activities outside of the permissible eight-hour allotment. 

The Presidents Council also opposed a proposal to amend the spring football practice period to permit 15 practice sessions within a period of 36 consecutive days, up from the current 29-day window. The two sponsors, the Great Lakes Valley Conference and Great Midwest Athletic Conference, stated that the extension of the spring practice period would enable schools to hold fewer practices per week, allowing for more recovery time for student-athletes, and provide greater flexibility for necessary scheduling adjustments. While the proposal does not increase the number of permissible on-field practice days, it would add another permissible week of conditioning activities and review of game film. The Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports took no position on the proposal because of a lack of data on any health and safety impact such a change might have, while the Management Council, like the presidents, opposed the proposal out of concern that it would increase time demands on football players and adversely impact their academics.

Elections

The Presidents Council elected vice chair Gary Olson, president at Daemen, to take over as chair when Jones’ term ends after the January Convention. A new vice chair will be elected at the January Presidents Council meeting.

Bruce McLarty, president of Harding, and M. Christopher Brown, president of Kentucky State, were elected to serve on the council for four-year terms beginning in January.  

The Presidents Council also ratified several Management Council elections. Laura Liesman, director of athletics at Georgian Court, will serve as the next chair of the Management Council, effective after the January Convention. Additionally, the following administrators were elected to the Management Council:

  • Laura Clayton Eady, senior woman administrator at West Georgia.
  • Martin Gilbert, faculty athletics representative at Mars Hill.
  • David Kuhlmeier, faculty athletics representative at Valdosta State.
  • John Lewis, athletics director at Bluefield State.
  • Dave Marsh, athletics director at Northwood.
  • Judy Sackfield, senior woman administrator at Texas A&M-Commerce.
  • Christie Ward, senior woman administrator at Georgia Southwestern.