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DIII committee backs postseason format changes

Policy also recommended for teams declining to attend championships

The Division III Championships Committee convened in Indianapolis last month. Highlights from two days of discussion:

  • The committee recommended that a day off be added between the team and individual portions of both the men’s and women’s tennis championships. A day off would provide recovery time for student-athletes participating in both competitions, allowing them to compete at a high level in the latter event. It also would provide the host and staff additional time to prepare for the second event. The additional day carries an estimated $5,000 cost increase. If approved by the Division III Management Council, the change would be effective for the 2019 championship.

    “Athletes who also participated in the team bracket will have a similar amount of rest compared to those student-athletes competing in just the individuals portion,” said Corey Borchardt, Championships Committee chair and commissioner of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. “The committee felt strongly that this request for a day off was different as compared to recent requests from other sport committees seeking a day off at the finals site given that the team and individual portions of the tennis championships are completely different brackets.”
  • The committee approved a recommendation from the Division III Softball Committee that would permit the Softball Committee to reseed the eight teams that advance to the championship’s final site in order to better balance the bracket at the championship site. The change, the Championships Committee noted, is consistent with the format in baseball and will be effective for the 2018 championship.

    “In recent years, the Championships Committee has approved the reseeding at finals sites for baseball and women’s volleyball, and the committee’s discussion for softball was consistent with the discussion that led to those previous decisions,” Borchardt said. “The feedback provided regarding the experience and process for baseball indicated the re-seeding at the finals site has been positive.”
  • The committee supported a potential policy change regarding NCAA institutions’ obligation to compete in NCAA championships. Should a team decline to participate (due to state-imposed travel bans, internal conduct reviews, etc.) it would be required to notify NCAA staff by some predetermined time (for example, at least 48 hours) before the deadline for conferences to submit their automatic qualifier. Penalties for missing the deadline could be assessed, but an appellate procedure also is recommended. The discussion marked an early stage of a longer process: Both the Division III Management and Presidents Councils will have an opportunity to discuss the potential change before any action is taken. Additionally, because it would affect all three divisions, the formal proposal will not be finalized until the appropriate groups in Divisions I and II have had an opportunity to review it and provide feedback.
  • In February, the Championships Committee supported a women’s golf championship field size increase, pending a review of sports sponsorship. In its recent meeting, the committee approved expanding the field from 22 to 25 teams, in accordance with the sport’s championships access ratio. Typically, the committee recommends only even-numbered field sizes, but due to the lack of a bracket in golf, the committee was comfortable moving to 25 teams. The committee previously had approved a $34,000 allocation to accommodate as many as 26 teams, so the change will not exceed what has been budgeted. The change will be effective for the 2018 championship.
  • The Championships Committee approved the Division III Wrestling Committee’s proposed regional realignment. The change, which is effective as of the 2017-18 season, is intended to better ensure geographic proximity and balanced championship access.