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DIII committee recommends health and safety survey pilot

Interpretations and Legislation Committee also supports expansion of DIII University

A health and safety survey that first launched in Division I and recently was adopted formally by Division II may be coming soon to Division III.

At a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee recommended that Division III launch a pilot for an annual health and safety survey, to be completed by athletic trainers at campuses around Division III. The committee felt the pilot program would be useful in determining whether the data gathered via the survey would be worth the additional time it would take staff to complete it and whether the survey questions are pertinent to the needs of Division III schools or need to be modified to account for differences with Divisions I and II.

Survey data would be conveyed anonymously through the NCAA Institutional Performance Program, giving sports medicine staff and administrators a vehicle to determine how their sports medicine programs function relative to those at peer schools.

Division I implemented its annual health and safety survey in 2017, and Division II members voted to make their survey mandatory at January’s NCAA Convention. The Division III Management Council will weigh the recommendation at its spring meeting and determine whether to launch a survey pilot.

“The pilot program specifically gives institutions and athletic training staff time to get acclimated to the additional workload and for the NCAA to gather initial data,” said Angie Morenz, committee chair and dean of work at Blackburn. “The work of the survey supports the efforts of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and its members, giving quantifiable data to help drive recommendations from the NCAA about injury trends, best practices and more.”

Potential Division III University expansion

The committee also recommended expanding Division III University, an educational resource for coaches and administrators that launched in December, to include additional compliance-related modules. Currently, the program offers modules with information on how the NCAA functions, the student-athlete reinstatement process and vital health and safety topics such as mental health. Modules are often interactive and typically require about eight minutes to complete.

The committee, though, discussed the viability of expanding the program so that it might more closely mirror Division II University, which launched last year and includes more than two dozen training modules. To start, the committee recommended that the program focus on educating coaches, with a particular focus on compliance in areas such as eligibility, recruiting and communication. The committee felt that identifying roughly 10 modules to address those topics, as well as determining a mechanism for ensuring coaches use the available materials, would be important next steps for the program.

At its spring meeting, the Management Council will discuss the committee’s recommendation and take steps to determine which modules might be offered. The Management Council and Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee also will weigh the potential budget impact of expanding the program. Each module will cost an estimated $3,000-$5,000 to develop.

“The additional modules will allow coaches and Division III members the opportunity to review the compliance materials while being able to revisit the videos as often as they like, share the short videos with student-athletes, and allow greater discussion for conferences and institutions about specific compliance areas,” Morenz said.