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DIII Presidents Council affirms current structure

The group does not think a proposal to reorganize the division warrants its endorsement

Sue Henderson, New Jersey City president, will replace Jeff Docking as the Division III Presidents Council chair in the coming year. NCAA Photos

The Division III Presidents Council sees no need to call for a comprehensive review of Division III or legislation that would dramatically restructure the division.

At a meeting Thursday at the NCAA Convention in Orlando, Florida, the group discussed a December letter and proposal sent to all Division III presidents from College of Mount Saint Vincent President Charles Flynn, who indicated he was writing on behalf of the Skyline Conference. The message declared the current Division III governance process “broken” and requested that it be recalibrated.  

In their discussion, Presidents Council members echoed the sentiments expressed Wednesday by their counterparts in the Division III Management Council, noting that 2018 membership survey results indicate the division is functioning well; the division’s current federated structure allows it autonomy from other divisions to control its bylaws and policies; and there is a process that permits for legislative change, which can be instigated either by the membership or the governance structure.

Like the Management Council, the Presidents Council expressed some confusion regarding the requests and recommendations within the proposal, which sought to “delineate and define NCAA Division III athletics as separate and apart from NCAA Division I and II by adopting a process of certification for Division III membership similar to that used for academic accreditation” and proposed charging Division III commissioners with formulating a plan to fix the current structure.

The Presidents Council and Management Council will issue a formal written response in the near future, and council members expressed thanks to Flynn for his interest in seeking to improve Division III. Because there was no support for the proposal from either council, the groups will encourage the Skyline Conference to work with NCAA staff to craft membership-sponsored legislation to address the issues articulated in the letter.  

“We felt like the survey that was done just last year indicated that people are actually very happy with Division III,” said Jeff Docking, Presidents Council chair and Adrian president. “We like what we have. We like the experience that the students are getting. And we like the federated process that we have for legislation to be passed.

“This isn’t to say that we’re not always trying to get better or that we’re not interested in input in how we can improve, but it is to say that we do have a legislative process, we’re happy with that process and we’re happy with the presidential leadership that we have around that process. All of those things combined suggest that Division III is in a good place and there’s not a lot of support right now for that proposal.”

Convening with SAAC

The Presidents Council also held a joint meeting with the Management Council and Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (including the committee’s new associate members). In addition to discussing 2019 NCAA Convention legislation, the groups shared their thoughts on how best to involve student-athletes in inclusion and identity efforts on campus, and how campus and conference SAACs can help student-athletes both limit and better communicate issues tied to missing class to participate in their sport.

Departing Presidents Council members

Thursday’s meeting marked the last one for three members of the Presidents Council. Along with Docking, Sharon Hirsh, president of Rosemont, and Rob Huntington, president of Heidelberg, took part in their final meeting.

Sue Henderson, New Jersey City president, will replace Docking as the group’s chair in the coming year, with Tori Murden McClure, president of Spalding, assuming the role of vice chair.