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DIII contest exemptions discussed

Championships Committee also weighs in on allowing split of regular baseball season

The concept of standardizing contest exemptions across all sports in Division III has garnered more support. The Division IIII Championships Committee lauded the idea – though it did not take any formal action – when it convened last week in Indianapolis.

The Division III Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee is exploring the concept, which would continue to permit contest exemptions for conference tournaments and end-of-season tournaments and would establish, for all sports, two exemptions for discretionary scrimmages, exhibitions or joint practices. All other existing standard and sport-specific exemptions would be eliminated. Based on mostly positive feedback from the division’s sport committees, the Championships Committee expressed its support for the concept. The subcommittee will take that feedback into account this summer and, potentially, could submit a legislative proposal.

“The concept has the potential to be equitable across all sports, as well as being compliance-friendly for tracking purposes,” said Gerald Young, Championships Committee chair and athletics director at Carleton College.

The Championships Committee also reviewed a Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee concept that would permit baseball teams to choose whether to split regular season games between the fall and spring or maintain the status quo by holding the nontraditional season in the fall and the regular season in the spring. Though the committee encouraged continued conversation on the concept, it expressed a number of reservations.

While the idea would provide schools the option of spreading games out over the year rather than playing many during a relatively short window (particularly in parts of the country with harsh winter weather), the Championships Committee pointed to several potential drawbacks. Committee members said permitting regular season games in the fall could pose problems for athletic training and sports information staffs already spread thin at that time of year and expressed concern for how multisport athletes would be affected, among other issues. The Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee also has referred this concept to the Division III Baseball Committee, which will provide more feedback.

Other actions:

  • The Championships Committee continued its discussion of potential ways to reallocate Pool B championship berths, reserved for schools not affiliated with a conference plus those from conferences that don’t have an automatic bid. The Division III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committees brought the recommendation forward because, in their view, unqualified Pool B teams are being selected at the expense of deserving Pool C teams. Pool C is composed of all teams not yet selected to the field, including those from automatic qualifying conferences that didn’t earn the automatic bid by winning the conference championship. After more discussion, the committee voted not to consolidate the two pools, but will continue to examine potential solutions.

    “The committee took to heart the solicited opinion from the Division III Membership Committee that Pool B remains a valuable and equitable avenue for independent and nonautomatic qualifying conference institutions to have access to championships,” Young said.
  • After gathering feedback from Division III sport committees, the Championships Committee recommended a trio of changes related to the championships selections and rankings. The committee recommended that results against ranked opponents from the year’s third published ranking and the final published ranking be considered in championships selections; that the final rankings be published at the time of championships selections; and that nonconference strength of schedule be included among secondary selection criteria. The Division III Management Council will review these recommendations at its July meeting.
  • The Championships Committee endorsed a recommendation from the Division III Women’s Basketball Committee to eliminate the sport’s consolation game. Along with women’s ice hockey, it’s one of only two consolation games among all Division III championships. Coaches have suggested the game provides little value for dispirited student-athletes who recently missed a chance to play for a national championship.