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DIII Management Council supports membership proposals

Committee also takes action on championships charter travel program

Five proposals sponsored by Division III members will be up for a vote at the NCAA Convention in January, and at a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Management Council voted to support all five.

The Division III Presidents Council will take an official position on one of those proposals when it convenes next week and has the option of taking a position on any of the remaining four. The Presidents Council will review a proposal from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Little East Conference that would permit graduate and post-baccalaureate students with remaining eligibility to play a sport at the Division III institution of their choice.

Currently, graduate or post-baccalaureate students in Division III with remaining eligibly can only play a sport at the institution they attended as an undergraduate, unless approved through a waiver process. The proposal, if adopted, would lift that restriction. The Management Council voted to recommend that the Presidents Council support the proposal.

The Management Council didn’t reach that position quickly. Proponents argued the proposal would expand academic opportunities for student-athletes who wish to continue their athletic careers while pursuing the graduate or second baccalaureate degree of their choice. Others, however, voiced concern that the change would be inconsistent with the division’s philosophy statement and would encourage some students to make graduate school decisions based on athletics, not academics. It also might impact schools differently depending on the extent to which they offer graduate programs.  

“The proposal generated terrific debate among Management Council members and, I believe, will do the same on the Convention floor,” said Tracey Ranieri, Management Council chair and athletics director at the State University of New York at Oneonta. “Ultimately, we decided the proposal was beneficial for student-athletes, but I look forward to further discussion by the Presidents Council and the membership’s vote at Convention.”

The four remaining membership-sponsored proposals that the Management Council voted to support are as follows:

  • A proposal from the Middle Atlantic Conferences, the Empire 8 and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference that would allow field hockey and lacrosse teams to conduct an exempted scrimmage, exhibition or joint practice with outside competition before the first permissible contest date. The proposal mirrors legislation adopted at the 2015 NCAA Convention related to soccer and women’s volleyball.
  • A proposal from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference that would eliminate the requirement that the mandatory weekly day off for track and field and swimming and diving programs be held on the same day for each athlete. This restriction has proven difficult to manage, the conferences noted, because athletes’ training schedules vary across the multiple disciplines in each sport.
  • A proposal from the North Coast Athletic Conference, the Landmark Conference and Middle Atlantic Conferences that would deregulate legislation governing camps and clinics by allowing institutions to host or conduct any athletic events involving recruits, provided those events are open to the general public and do not offer reduced or free admission to prospective student-athletes.
  • A proposal from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that would eliminate the window of reconsideration for proposals at the Division III business session. The conferences have argued, and the Management Council agreed, that delegates have ample time to prepare to vote and that reconsideration votes often do not accurately represent the division’s interests because some delegates depart before those votes are cast.

Other actions:

  • The Management Council met with Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, and discussed a proposal that would require institutions to establish a structure that ensures independent medical care for student-athletes and also would require that schools designate an athletics health care administrator. The Presidents Council voted to sponsor the proposal this summer. The Management Council agreed to forward a related white paper to the membership and identified several questions to include in the legislative question-and-answer document to help members better understand the proposal’s intent and requirements.
  • The Management Council approved a recommendation from the Division III Championships Committee that the division adopt a charter travel program for team sports. The program caps the cost of seats on charter flights to championship events, allowing schools more financial flexibility to purchase additional seats beyond those allotted for their travel party. The program underwent a successful trial in 2015-16.
  • After receiving feedback from members, the Management Council reviewed a decision by the Championships Committee related to regional alignment in wrestling. The Division III Wrestling Committee requested the sport’s regions be realigned for the 2016-17 season because of an influx of eight new programs, but the Championships Committee urged the Wrestling Committee to study potential realignment options, wait to make a decision until it expands from four to six members and implement any changes before the 2017-18 season. The Management Council opted not to take any action to intervene and agreed the Championships Committee’s decision and related review process should stand.
  • The Management Council voted to create a Division III lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning working group that will examine the role of athletics departments in creating pertinent resources and programming, develop a best practices resource and coordinate with the NCAA’s office of inclusion to develop programming.

    “Diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of many conversations nationwide,” Ranieri said. “This is work we need to do for the membership.”