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DII Presidents Council votes to eliminate football two-a-days

Group also creates task force to support NCAA injury surveillance program

Traditional two-a-day football practices in the preseason will no longer be permissible in Division II, the Division II Presidents Council determined this week.

At its April 25-26 meeting in Indianapolis, the council voted to adopt emergency legislation to align the division with new health and safety recommendations endorsed by the NCAA Sport Science Institute and leading scientific and sports medicine organizations. Divisions I and III also moved this month to discontinue football two-a-days.

While the change will take effect immediately in Division II, it will need to be ratified by the Division II membership at the 2018 NCAA Convention in January in Indianapolis.

“In the end it, it’s all about the health and safety of our student-athletes, which we are all committed to,” said Glen Jones, president of Henderson State and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “Now that we have information showing there are ways to improve our ability to protect student-athletes, I think we’re obligated to follow what that information is telling us.”

The discontinuation of football two-a-days during the preseason was one of several recommendations included in an interassociation consensus document on year-round football practice contact that was released in January. The recommendations were based on research suggesting that contact practices carry a greater risk of head injuries, and that adequate recovery time between contact practices could play a role in reducing those and other injuries. The recommendations were supported by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports and more than 20 other organizations.

Anticipating a change in some schools’ preseason practice plans, the Division II Committee for Legislative Relief in February issued a blanket waiver that permits football teams to begin the 2017 preseason Aug. 7, three days earlier than originally scheduled. The waiver is intended to provide schools flexibility to adjust practice schedules and ensure adequate time to prepare student-athletes for the season.

Earlier this month, the Division II Management Council voted in support of the legislation, while also requesting clarification around the appropriate activities, such as weightlifting, that coaches could hold on the same day as a contact practice or on a day off. The Management Council referred this issue to the CSMAS and the Sport Science Institute.

Injury surveillance program

Also at the meeting, the Presidents Council took action in support of an NCAA program that collects data on student-athlete injuries and illnesses. The NCAA’s injury surveillance program relies on voluntary participation among schools, whose athletic trainers and physicians can submit data on a sport-by-sport basis through an online system.

The presidents approved the creation of a task force that will focus on increasing Division II participation in the program. The task force was a recommendation from the Management Council in response to learning that just 6 percent of Division II schools now submit injury data. Meanwhile, about 70 percent have access to an electronic medical records system that could facilitate participation. Overall, about 8 percent of the entire NCAA membership participates. 

Council members acknowledged the role the program could play in assisting the division in making data-driven decisions. “I would strongly encourage all of our members to participate,” Jones said. “It’s data that we can look at in aggregate and hopefully use to develop best practices that we can share across institutions in terms of injury avoidance and the overall health and safety of our student-athletes.”

Other actions

The Presidents Council also:

  • Voted in support of a legislative concept that would move up the start date for women’s volleyball by one week in years in which the Division II National Championships Festival occurs in the fall. Some council members questioned whether the change would encroach on the division’s “Life in the Balance” philosophy, but the group approved the change in concept to allow for further discussion among the membership. The concept will return to the council as a formal proposal this summer, and the council will determine whether to sponsor it for the 2018 Convention.
  • Voted in support of a legislative concept that would eliminate the legislated penalty for sports wagering and allow the Division II Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement to review cases on an individual basis. The concept is being considered across all three divisions and will also return to the council as a formal proposal this summer.
  • Approved a series of budget recommendations for the Division II annual allocation of 4.37 percent of the Association’s revenue, which in fiscal year 2017-18 amounts to $720,232. The recommendations, which will be presented to the NCAA Board of Governors for final approval, include a 5 percent increase to the budget for the Division II enhancement fund.
  • Elected Allison Garrett, president of Emporia State, to the Presidents Council.
  • Approved the election of Bob Dranoff, commissioner of the East Coast Conference, to the Division II Management Council.