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DIII Management Council urges practical application of health and safety guidelines

The Management Council encouraged NCAA staff to form an advisory group to address concerns

Lori Runksmeier (left) served as Division III Management Council chair for the final time Wednesday. Tracey Ranieri (right) will assume the role after Saturday’s Division III business session. 

During a meeting Wednesday at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio, the Division III Management Council recommended that the national office staff consider developing an advisory group comprised of college presidents, athletics administrators and athletic trainers from all three divisions to address health and safety guidelines put forward by the NCAA Sport Science Institute. The group would work to find ways for schools of all sizes and financial means to implement health and safety guidelines recommended by the Sport Science Institute. 

“I think that the first goal would be added communication between SSI and Division III schools that are very resource-limited,” said Lori Runksmeier, athletics director at Eastern Connecticut State University and Management Council chair. “We want to do the best that we can for the health and safety of our student-athletes. We do have that as our primary concern. But many of our institutions have huge financial struggles outside of athletics.”

Members of the Sport Science Institute staff, including NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline, met with the Management Council to discuss key takeaways from the recent Division III Health and Safety Summit. Hainline’s team left the summit with three primary goals for Division III: Each school should have a director of medical services; template protocols for care should be made widely available to the Division III membership; and the start of the fall nontraditional season should be delayed as long as is reasonable so sports medicine staff has adequate time to work with college athletes in fall sports.

Accomplishing all of that, in addition to adhering to detailed guidelines pertaining to concussion, cardiac care and mental health, is important, Management Council members said, but doing so at schools with limited resources poses a challenge. They hope to work with the Sport Science Institute to find practical ways to meet those goals in the context of some institutions’ financial constraints.  

“We have to determine what we can provide, what the expectations are and what we can do within an institutional context,” Runksmeier said. “We can’t soak up all of an institution’s resources. On the flip side, we have to do right by our student-athletes. How do we determine where that balance is?”

Other actions

  • A proposal that would deregulate rules regarding contact between coaches and prospective student-athletes via social media, as well as rules pertaining to publicizing interactions with recruits, may be split into two separate votes before it goes to vote at Saturday’s Division III business session. Given the potential division, the Management Council voted on both parts of the proposal individually. Ultimately, the Management Council recommended the Division III Presidents Council oppose both the social media deregulation (which, by itself, would allow a coach to friend or follow a prospective student-athlete on social media) and the publicity deregulation (which, by itself, would allow a school to make public comments concerning its recruitment of a prospective student-athlete). Management Council had previously opposed the changes when they were part of one proposal. The Division III Presidents Council will take an official position on both pieces during its Thursday meeting. 
  •  The Management Council approved a request from the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee that will allow presidents and chancellors who serve as athletics direct reports to receive grant funding to attend the NCAA Convention. Previously, that funding was reserved only for vice presidents who serve as athletics direct reports.
  • The Management Council approved a series of interpretations from the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee, including, among others: an interpretation clarifying that student-athletes may participate in leadership and other training that includes sport-related information outside of the playing and practice season, provided that programming is not limited to a single team; and an interpretation clarifying how a school must determine whether a contest is a varsity or a sub-varsity contest. That designation can’t be changed after competition has commenced.
  • A trio of longtime Management Council members served in their final meeting. Outgoing members include: Terry Rupert, athletics director at Wilmington College and former Management Council chair; Jaime Salcedo, Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative and recent graduate of Medaille College; and Runksmeier, the outgoing chair. Tracey Ranieri, athletics director at the State University of New York at Oneonta, will replace Runksmeier as chair after Saturday’s business session.