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DIII presidents OK sickle cell testing allocation

By Gary Brown

To prepare for Saturday’s business session that includes membership voting on a proposal to require schools to confirm their student-athletes’ sickle cell trait status no later than 2014-15 (Proposal No. 4 in the Official Notice), the Division III Presidents Council formally approved funding to help schools defray the cost of testing if the proposal is adopted.

The one-time distribution (totaling about $220,000) would come from an anticipated 2012-13 surplus in the collaboration with NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) to address alcohol and other drug abuse on campus. The allocation would provide each active Division III institution up to $500 to offset the costs of testing if Proposal No. 4 passes on Saturday.

Allocations would be made through a web-based reimbursement system in which schools would log in and submit their policy regarding sickle cell trait status confirmation along with the athletics director’s signature certifying that the policy and testing had been implemented accordingly. Schools also would be asked to indicate the number of first-year student-athletes and transfers in 2013-14. After that, schools would receive their $500 check.

“Taking this action doesn’t mean we are assuming the outcome of the vote on Saturday, but this allocation helps address the cost concerns we’ve heard from the membership about this proposal if in fact it is adopted,” said Presidents Council chair Jim Schmotter of Western Connecticut State University.

The Council reiterated its support of Proposal No. 4 as a way to further enhance student-athlete health and safety. The presidents also noted unanimous support from the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, whose members said in a presentation to the Management Council on Wednesday that they took it upon themselves to find out their own sickle cell trait status. Fourteen of the 17 members reported the ease of confirmation through either parents or a family physician. The SAAC also affirmed its support of Proposal No. 4 during a joint breakfast with the Management and Presidents Councils Thursday morning.

The presidents at their Thursday meeting also approved an Administrative Committee recommendation to allocate $25,000 per year for the next two years to distribute among Division III institutions that voluntarily submit student-athlete graduation rates data. The allocation will be split evenly among institutions that submit relevant student-athlete data by the June 1 deadline. The Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will discuss at its meeting in March future program allocations, including the issue of honorariums for new versus continuing participants beyond 2013-14.

In other budget-related action, Council members:

  • Approved a best business practice policy for conferences to follow regarding the use of Division III conference grant funds. The Presidents Council also approved a $400 allocation to each conference to help with the costs of the now-required third-party review.
  • Supported a request for Association-wide funding to increase the dollar amount (from $6,000 to $7,500) for the NCAA’s Ethnic Minority and Women’s Enhancement Postgraduate Scholarship for Careers in Athletics. The increased amount would equal that of scholarships already awarded through the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Program. (Divisions I and II are considering this request as well.)