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DIII Management Council opposes acclimatization proposal

The legislation would add three days to the preseason in field hockey and soccer

One of Division III’s top governing bodies has opposed a 2019 NCAA Convention proposal that would alter the preseason in field hockey and soccer.

At a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Management Council recommended that the Division III Presidents Council oppose a proposal from the City University of New York Athletic Conference and New Jersey Athletic Conference that, if adopted, would add three additional days for acclimatization to the preseason practice period in both sports, among other modifications to current rules. The proposal’s sponsors contend there is not enough preseason practice time in soccer and field hockey to adequately prepare student-athletes for competition.

The Management Council opposed the proposal because no data exist regarding whether such a change would benefit the health and safety of student-athletes, according to the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. The Management Council also noted that extending the preseason could pose financial hardships for lower-resource schools and could encumber student-athletes with summer jobs or internships.

The Presidents Council will review the recommendation at its meeting next week.

“We also want to take a broader look at how this would be applicable to all sports across the board and not just these particular sports,” said Shantey Hill, Management Council chair and St. Joseph’s (Long Island) vice president for athletics and campus services. “And our SAAC representatives stated that they thought that this might prevent student-athletes from continuing with their summer employment and internships. We took a look at all of those factors and determined that we need to have better data before we support a proposal of this nature and unfortunately, right now, it does not exist.”

The Management Council also took a pair of actions relevant to other Convention legislation: The group recommended amending a proposal that would allow the first permissible practice date in football to occur 23 days before a school’s first regular-season contest. The amendment applies to teams whose first game falls on the first Thursday of the regular season. Their first practice would be permitted to take place 23 days before the Friday of that game week.

The Management Council also recommended a waiver, effective immediately, that would effectively put on hold any adverse eligibility ramifications for individuals who accepted pre-enrollment educational expenses that are now impermissible, but would be allowed pursuant to a proposal being voted on in January. The proposal would allow a prospective student-athlete to accept educational expenses before college enrollment from any individual or entity other than an agent, professional sports team or representative of a school’s athletic interests. The waiver will ensure student-athletes are not affected until members can make a decision at the Convention. 

Basketball joint championships

The Management Council supported a recommendation from the Division III Championships Committee that men’s and women’s basketball each hold one joint championship with their counterparts in Divisions I and II in coming years. Though each event will cost an additional estimated $250,000, Management Council members felt the opportunity for Division III student-athletes to compete in front of larger-than-normal audiences, as was the case in recent joint championships in Atlanta (men’s basketball) and Indianapolis (women’s basketball), as well as the unparalleled opportunity to promote the Division III identity, is a worthy investment.

“The benefits outweigh the costs,” Hill said. “It’s no secret that our students graduate at a high rate, they have great GPAs, and they’re really great athletes as well. It’s an opportunity for us to showcase our Division III athletes on a stage that we normally would not have.”

Division III University

This spring, Division II introduced Division II University, an online learning management system for head coaches built around learning modules that range from compliance to health and safety, to information about the NCAA’s structure and functions. The Management Council recommended that Division III take the first steps toward creating a similar tool. Next year, the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee will formulate the subject and scope of the content for a comparable program and propose a budget. The Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will then consider that proposal.

Committee recommendations approved

The Management Council approved several key recommendations from the Interpretations and Legislation Committee, including:

  • Sponsoring noncontroversial legislation clarifying that student-athletes may engage in voluntary activities, even if it is confined primarily to members of that team, without it constituting an impermissible captain’s practice. This provides student-athletes greater latitude to engage with their teammates while maintaining prohibitions on staff involvement and making these activities mandatory. The Management Council also directed staff to discuss any health and safety implications with the NCAA Sport Science Institute.
  • Approving an interpretation that would permit schools to provide digital photographs of a prospective student-athlete to that recruit, even if they have been altered in some manner. The previous rule required that photos be unaltered.
  • Approving an interpretation to clarify that Division III coaches may contact student-athletes who are listed in the NCAA Transfer Portal.