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DIII committee targets bracket expansions

More funds recommended for championships travel, officiating

Potential Division III championships enhancements and bracket expansions were put into motion last week.

During its meeting in Indianapolis, the Division III Championships Committee recommended several changes designed to improve championships access for student-athletes and enhance the championships experience, while being mindful of the division’s budget. The Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will review the recommendations at its March meeting.

Per the division’s legislated championships access ratio, the Championships Committee recommended expanding the following championship brackets beginning in the 2017-18 academic year:

  • Baseball from 56 teams to 58.
  • Women’s golf from 22 teams to either 24 or 26 depending on forthcoming sport-sponsorship data.
  • Women’s ice hockey from eight teams to nine.
  • Men’s lacrosse from 34 teams to 36.
  • Women’s lacrosse from 40 teams to 42.

The enhancements are expected to cost $114,000.

The Championships Committee sifted through more than 30 recommendations from sport committees, relying on feedback and data from sport committee chairs and recent membership surveys as it prioritized its recommended changes. 

“As we went through the vetting process, it became clear that the top priority for our committee was to continue bracket expansion for those sports where the Division III legislated access ratios warranted further expansion,” said Corey Borchardt, Championships Committee chair and commissioner of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. “It is a positive that we can provide additional opportunities for member institutions and student-athletes.”

The Championships Committee also recommended the division allocate an additional $500,000 annually to help subsidize increased travel party sizes for some championships and to partially cover costs related to on-site ground transportation for teams that fly to championship events. The committee did not recommend bringing reimbursable travel party sizes up to the levels they were before a 10 percent cut across all sports in 2014 but hopes to find an equitable way to increase the size of travel parties across several sports.

“I am excited as our committee will be further exploring a few different models for covering more ground transportation costs and more travel party expenses,” Borchardt said. “In the end, hopefully this will be a direct benefit to member institutions.”

Other actions:

  • The Championships Committee recommended several changes pertinent to officiating, including adopting a national coordinator of officials in men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, effective in 2017-18. The Championships Committee also recommended allocating about $65,000 for additional officiating fees at championship events in several sports. The funds would be used to compensate an officials evaluator or supervisor at championships sites in field hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s ice hockey, among other changes.
  • The Championships Committee endorsed a recommendation from the Division III Men’s Volleyball Committee that four teams participate at the championship finals site. Currently, eight teams are invited to compete at the championship venue. The change would carry an estimated $38,000 cost to account for travel to three preliminary-round sites.
  • The Championships Committee reviewed requests to expand championship fields for indoor track and field, men’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis. Based on sponsorship data and other factors, committee members did not recommend any expansions in those sports. However, the Championships Committee will revisit those discussions at future meetings.