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DIII SAAC opposes acclimatization proposal

Committee supports adding independent members to NCAA Board of Governors

The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee endorsed all but one of the proposals that will be subject to a membership vote at the 2019 NCAA Convention. The group convened Nov. 12-13 in Indianapolis.  

The lone proposal that SAAC opposed would add three additional days for acclimatization to the preseason practice period in field hockey and soccer, among other modifications to current rules. The proposal’s sponsors, the City University of New York Athletic Conference and New Jersey Athletic Conference, contend there is not enough preseason practice time in those sports to adequately prepare student-athletes for competition. But SAAC opposed the proposal, citing a lack of data regarding the health and safety implications of such a change and that it might place a financial burden on some institutions that would bring their athletes back three days earlier than usual.

“The stated intent behind the proposal is to enhance the health and safety of student-athletes; however, there has been no data from the Sport Science Institute affirming a three-day acclimatization period will be beneficial to student-athlete health,” said Parker Hammel, SAAC chair and former Wartburg football student-athlete. “Due to the inevitable financial burdens, potential competitive disadvantage and the lack of scientific data supporting these three days, we decided to oppose it.”

Among the six proposals SAAC supported is legislation that would permit athletics department staff to connect (for example, “friend or “follow”) with prospective student-athletes on social media platforms, among other eased restrictions. The committee felt deregulating some of the social media rules would simplify social media interactions between recruits and athletics department staff and help build rapport between coaches and prospects.

SAAC also supported the Association-wide proposal that would add five independent voting members to the NCAA Board of Governors.

“First and foremost, we felt this would diversify positions and opinions, and ultimately promote objectivity,” Hammel said. “As a committee, we felt that it would be valuable to include outside personnel to ensure the integrity of the NCAA and help restore trust in the Association.”

Gender-neutral policies and procedures

SAAC recommended that the Management Council consider making Division III’s policies and procedures gender neutral. SAAC recently did the same for its own policies and procedures, in hopes of further promoting equity throughout the division.

“Many of our student-athletes strongly advocated for this recommendation due to situations that have risen on their campuses,” Hammel said. “While these adjustments will not solve all of the problems, we believe it could be a step in the right direction to show our institutions that Division III understands and supports the fight for inclusion. Several student-athletes across the country do not identify with the traditional pronouns that are currently used in our policies and procedures, and we feel that we can help contribute to their identity and sense of belonging by making these changes. These minor adjustments would be a major step in the right direction toward a comfortable, inclusive environment.”