You are here

DIII Management Council supports adopting diversity and inclusion designee

Role would serve as conduit for resources and information and wouldn’t require a new hire

A new designation may soon be coming to NCAA athletics departments. 

At a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Management Council recommended a proposal that calls for all member schools and conference offices to add an athletics diversity and inclusion designee. If adopted, the designation would not necessitate a new hire. It could be a title conferred upon a current staff member — inside or outside the athletics department — who would be charged with serving as the primary contact and conduit for diversity and inclusion-related information. The position would be comparable to the function of the athletics health care administrator but for diversity and inclusion efforts.

The proposal was brought forward by the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and is being considered by all three divisions.

“When our governance structure brings forward a recommendation that allows us to further our efforts in diversity and inclusion, we want to be able to support that,” said Stevie Baker-Watson, associate vice president for campus wellness and director of athletics and DePauw and chair of the Management Council.

The Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee proposed the new designation to help establish and maintain environments throughout the NCAA that value cultural diversity and gender equity. NCAA inclusion staff and others in the national office produce resources and programming that help support that effort, and the staffer assigned the new designation would be charged with ensuring that information is distributed to relevant parties at each campus and in each conference office. The Division III Presidents Council will review the proposal later this month and decide whether to sponsor it as Convention legislation at its forthcoming meeting.

Mental health services and resources

The Management Council recommended — in concept — a noncontroversial legislative proposal from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to ensure that institutions make mental health services and resources available to student-athletes. It also calls for schools to distribute mental health educational materials and resources to student-athletes and relevant athletics personnel throughout the year. The proposal is also being considered in Divisions I and II.

While the Management Council supported the concept and acknowledged that many campuses likely already meet these requirements, several members asked for more clarity regarding what these requirements might entail and what resources would be required to meet them. When it reconvenes this summer, the group will review a draft that maintains the intent of the original proposal but also is appropriate for Division III — one that, vitally, will take existing campus mental health resources as well as budget and resource limitations into account.

“We are the largest group within the membership, and we might be on the lower-resourced end compared to the others,” Baker-Watson said. “There was concern that while we completely understand and see the mental health challenges on our campuses, we may not be able to actually fulfill those requirements as they’ve designated it. We also recognized that many of us are already providing these services to our students.”

Regional realignment

The Management Council opted not to act on a recommendation from the Division III Championships Committee that would significantly alter regional alignment across Division III sports. The committee will instead solicit feedback from relevant sport committees before refining the proposal and bringing it back to Management Council for further consideration.

Conference composition

The Management Council sponsored a proposal from the Division III Membership Committee that would permit provisional institutions involved in year three or four of the new member process to count towards the seven institutions needed to form a conference in a given sport. At least four of those seven members, though, would need to be active Division III institutions. The Presidents Council will review the recommendation at its upcoming meeting.  

International ice hockey pilot

The pilot program for schools that sponsor men’s and/or women’s ice hockey that began last year will continue for at least one more. The program entailed the NCAA Eligibility Center reviewing participation history for all international first-year ice hockey student-athletes instead of that burden falling to campus compliance staffs. Due to positive survey feedback, the Management Council recommended that the program continue for the forthcoming academic year with two primary modifications. Rather than being fully subsidized by the NCAA as it was last year, the $150 fee for each Eligibility Center review will be split by Division III and each first-year international ice hockey student-athlete. Also, prospective student-athletes will complete the Eligibility Center’s certification account, which is similar to the process for Division I and II and allows for campus administrators to receive more information and updates.

Interpretations and Legislation Committee recommendations

The Management Council approved several proposals and initiatives recommended by the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee. Among them:

  • Creating a Division III health and safety pilot survey. The survey will be distributed to Division III schools in 2019 in hopes of determining whether the data collected might help them better assess their medical care practices.  Collected data is added to the NCAA Institutional Performance Program so schools may benchmark their medical services anonymously against peer institutions.
  • A noncontroversial legislative proposal, resulting from a recommendation from the Commission on College Basketball, that would require a school’s chancellor or president to attest annually to understanding obligations and responsibilities regarding institutional control and compliance. It would also require athletics directors to certify annually that conditions to compete in individual and team NCAA championship competitions had been met and that all athletics staff are aware of obligations and responsibilities relevant to institutional control and compliance. Presidents and athletics directors would need to complete the attestation via an online learning management module by Oct. 15 every year, effective Aug. 1 of this year.

A noncontroversial legislative proposal to increase the student-athlete per diem for incidental expenses on foreign tours from $20 to $30. The amount hasn’t been adjusted since 1996.