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DIII Presidents Council backs football preseason proposal

Group also approves implementing a membership dues increase this year

Division III members once again will have an opportunity to vote on legislation that could reshape the football preseason.

At its meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Presidents Council sponsored 2019 NCAA Convention legislation that, if adopted, would allow the first permissible practice date to occur 23 days before a school’s first regular-season contest. A day off from physical activity should be provided during each week of the preseason after the five-day acclimatization period. (As a result, total permissible practice days would be capped at 21.)

The Division III Management Council recommended the Presidents Council sponsor the legislation, initially proposed by the Division III Football Committee, after another proposal related to the football preseason schedule was defeated at the 2018 NCAA Convention

“This proposal is more equitable, and I think it gives our presidents a much better understanding of the boundaries around football-related activities, especially when students can arrive on campus,” said Jeff Docking, Presidents Council chair and president of Adrian. “We believe that football is a wonderful part of the collegiate experience, that it boosts school spirit, and provides a great source of pride for many of our communities in which our colleges are located. But we also know that football rosters are large and can be very expensive unless we have a clear understanding of when athletes can return to campus for preseason practice. This legislation, which was crafted with considerable input from football coaches and athletic departments, is a fair middle ground for the athletes and the institutions.”

If members adopt the legislation at the 2019 Convention, the new rules would take effect before the 2019 preseason.

Waivers relevant to the 2018 preseason were recently enacted by the Division III Administrative Committee. They allow institutions to conduct athletically related activities in football during the administrative day and a half allotted before the first permissible practice date in 2018. They also permit the use of footballs during walk-through sessions after the acclimatization period, and permit the flexibility to extend the walk-through session when the contact practice held on the same day is less than three hours.

Earlier this month, the Management Council passed noncontroversial legislation to make those waivers permanent in 2019 and beyond.

Dues increase implemented

Per a recommendation from the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee that was endorsed at the recent Management Council meeting, the Presidents Council voted to fully implement the membership dues increase, which was first adopted at the 2016 NCAA Convention and subsequently delayed. Last year, in the wake of a budget review, Division III members were given a credit to offset the adopted dues increase.

Annual dues for Division III schools will rise from $900 to $2,000, and conferences will be required to pay $1,000, up from $450. The change is effective for the dues owed by Sept. 1 of this year. All of the additional revenue will go to Division III and will not be split among the other divisions.

The Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will initially decide and recommend to the Councils how to allocate the additional revenue this summer, likely allotting funds for nonchampionships initiatives, including grant programs and other efforts designed to bolster opportunities for women and minorities within the division.

“These dollars will stay within Division III, which is a big deal for us,” Docking said. “I think that there’s going to be some important thinking regarding this additional money and what directions we want to take with it.”

Mandatory graduation rate reporting

The Presidents Council sponsored a 2019 NCAA Convention legislative proposal, recommended by the Management Council and Division III Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, that would require Division III colleges and universities to report student-athlete graduation rates by June 1 every year.

The data — not for public release — would permit schools, via the NCAA Institutional Performance Program, to conduct thorough self-evaluations and benchmark against data from peer institutions. It also would serve as the basis for evidence-based best practices designed to help cohorts of student-athletes whose graduation rates are found to be trailing those of their peers — the working group is seeking to better evaluate recent trends regarding African-American student-athletes and student-athletes in the sport of football.

Basketball recommendations

The Division III Presidents Council convened the day before the Commission on College Basketball . The Presidents Council will discuss how those recommendations and the NCAA Board of Governors’ subsequent directives pertain to Division III at its summer meeting and determine what actions, if any, need to be taken.