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DIII committee recommends sportsmanship initiative

Plan will develop program to help schools maintain positive game environments

After nearly two years of work, a plan to develop a training program that helps Division III schools maintain positive game environments – including appropriate fan behavior – has received initial approval for funding.

On a Thursday conference call, the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee voted to recommend moving forward with the program proposed by the Division III Sportsmanship and Game Environment Working Group. The Division III Administrative Committee will next consider the proposal, on behalf of the division’s Management and Presidents Councils.

The potential benefits to members would include a five-module online training program that would help institutions improve upon their game environments; the creation of Division III game service standards that define the proper environment for all contests; and tool kits and training through the Disney Institute that ensure game standards can be implemented at institutions at all resource levels.

Initial funding for the program comes at a cost of $500,000, including $50,000 already allocated to the working group for the upcoming year. If the program is approved and implemented, the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee recommended the establishment of objective evaluation criteria and asked to review the program’s effectiveness annually to determine what future funds should be allocated to maintain it.

Budget update

NCAA staff briefed the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee on the final 2015-16 budget. Results were better than expected, as the division ended the year with a $4 million surplus against a forecasted $2.1 million. Travel costs were lower due to cheaper-than-anticipated fuel and fewer charter flights than previous years. Additionally, spending on nonchampionships initiatives was lower than expected, accounting for 30 percent of the unplanned surplus.

The division’s budget forecast now avoids a deficit until 2023-24.

Given the forecasted surplus, the committee was briefed on potential championships enhancements requested by sport committees via the Division III Championships Committee. While the Championships Committee has not formalized these requests and the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will not take action on them until its March meeting, areas for potential expansion include the following: expanded brackets and field sizes; increasing travel party team size; reimbursing teams flying to a championship site for the cost of ground transportation at that site; implementing a day of rest between the semifinal and final rounds for team sports; and increasing fees paid to officials, among other sport-specific requests. The committee also will consider nonchampionships budget enhancements at that time.