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DIII committee supports membership proposals

Recommendations include letting grad students with eligibility play at school of their choice

At its meeting last week in Indianapolis, the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee reviewed the tentative Division III legislative slate for the 2017 NCAA Convention and recommended that the Division III Management Council or Division III Presidents Council support a handful of key proposals that originated within the membership.

The committee supported a proposal from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that would permit graduate and post-baccalaureate students with remaining eligibility to play a sport at a Division III school of their choice. Current legislation allows them to continue playing, but only at the institution where they received their undergraduate degree.

Committee members debated potential drawbacks, including teams using the rule as a loophole to stack rosters with talented graduate transfers and the disadvantage the rule change might place on schools without graduate programs. However, the committee ultimately decided to recommend that the Presidents Council support the legislation because it grants student-athletes more freedom to make the academic and athletic choices that are in their best interests. The Presidents Council will review feedback from the committee and the Management Council before it takes a formal position in October.   

“It’s student-athlete friendly and gives as many people an opportunity to participate in Division III as possible,” said Shana Levine, committee chair and director of physical education and athletics at Lewis & Clark College. “The committee felt we should take the most permissive approach.”

The committee also recommended that the Management Council support a proposal from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that would eliminate the window of reconsideration during the annual Division III Business Session. Like the conference that submitted the proposal, the committee felt that the window is unnecessary given the amount of time institutions have to prepare for the initial vote, and that reconsideration votes often don’t accurately represent the division’s interests because some delegates depart before those votes are cast.

“Historically, there has been a lot of concern with the reconsideration period – that it was being used more as a tool to bring up the same arguments again,” Levine said. “We also hope this will push individuals to become informed on the issues prior to getting to the business session on Saturday, and to use our conference meetings on Friday for vetting the arguments so that we’re not hearing new information on the floor.”

The committee reviewed several other legislative proposals and recommended that the Management Council support a proposal from the North Coast Athletic Conference and Middle Atlantic Conferences that would provide greater flexibility for Division III institutions to host or conduct events involving recruits, provided those events are open to the general public and do not offer free or reduced admission to those prospective student-athletes.

The Management Council will take an official position on these proposals and others from the membership when it convenes in October.

Other actions:

  • The committee held a lengthy discussion regarding the potential for academic integrity and misconduct rules in Division III. Committee members reviewed the framework recently adopted by Division I, which was designed to create a balance between a school’s responsibility to manage academic integrity issues and the NCAA’s obligation to reinforce and uphold academic principles. The Management Council will discuss the topic this fall, and the committee will determine any potential next steps at a future meeting. 

    “Academic misconduct is an important concept to consider, specifically in Division III, given our focus on academics,” Levine said. “I think it’s going to be something that the division gets behind, and having more clarity on the subject is really important.”
  • The committee confirmed that athletics department staff members neither may be employed in any capacity by a recruiting or scouting service, nor can they directly reference or endorse any such service. The recruiting service landscape has expanded in recent years, and the committee felt it was an appropriate time to clarify the rules already in place.
  • The committee also intends to clarify that while Division III coaches who have Olympic and national team responsibilities can select participants for those teams, they are not permitted to identify their entire school team as a national or Olympic team in order to circumvent legislation that restricts out-of-season athletically related activities.