By Brian Hendrickson
Some Division II Management Council members believe legislation it recommended for sponsorship by the Division II Presidents Council could become one of the most-discussed proposals of next year’s legislative cycle if the Presidents Council moves it forward on Thursday.
The proposal, originally recommended by the Division II Membership Committee, would require all Division II active member institutions to employ a full-time athletics director and a full-time compliance administrator who have no coaching duties. That requirement is already made of schools in the Division II membership process.
The proposal will next be discussed on Thursday by the Division II Presidents Council, which can take it in several directions, including referring it back to the Membership Committee for further discussion, sponsoring it and putting it to a member vote, or rejecting it.
The Membership Committee’s recommendation seeks to bring consistency to that requirement, and Erin O’Connell, Seattle Pacific University athletics director and a member of both the Management Council and Membership Committee, said the Membership Committee felt the requirement was an important step in Division II’s future evolution.
O’Connell said the day-to-day emphasis on academics, compliance and the student-athlete experience has made it difficult for athletics directors and compliance administrators to effectively manage those responsibilities while splitting time with coaching duties.
“We’re at a point that to strengthen and continue the evolution of Division II requires they be full-time with no coaching responsibilities,” O’Connell said. “We’ve arrived at a point where the jobs are that big now.”
Management Council Chair Bob Boerigter, commissioner of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, said some appeals by schools applying for membership have also raised questions about why institutions in the membership process are held to a higher standard than current members.
“This is about leveling the playing field,” Boerigter told the council. “We already require it of new members. This is just another situation where we try to put everybody in the same boat together.”
Management Council members believe the proposal will impact a small number of active Division II members. In last year’s Division II Census, 90 percent of the 260 athletics directors who responded reported having no coaching duties, and 95 percent of the 154 responding compliance officers reported the same. But because of institutional autonomy when it comes to staffing decisions, Management Council members expect the proposal to spark a philosophical discussion throughout the next year.
White paper targets strategic growth
The Membership Committee also presented the Management Council with a draft of a new white paper outlining Division II’s approach to strategic growth.
The new paper, a complement to a previous strategic-growth paper produced in 2010, was written in response to questions raised last fall about whether new members should be ready for Division II membership at the time of application to enter the Division II membership process or not.
The new white paper formalizes discussions that the Management Council and Presidents Council have had in recent months, and establishes that new members must meet full Division II standards before they can be accepted into the membership process. It also recommends that conferences can play a role in assisting, mentoring and educating schools that it sponsors as they progress through the process.
The Membership Committee believes holding new members to that standard ensures the quality of the division will be maintained and encourages schools progressing through the membership process to raise the level in the division.
The white paper will be presented to the Presidents Council on Thursday, with a possible final review and approval in April.