You are here

DIII schools could get financial help with sickle cell testing

By Gary Brown

The Division III Management Council during its meeting Monday and Tuesday supported the concept of a one-time allocation to help Division III schools defray the costs of sickle cell trait testing if a proposal to require such testing passes in January.

The action came in part as a response to membership concerns about costs related to Proposal No. 2-8, which would require confirmation of sickle cell trait status for all student-athletes no later than the 2014-15 academic year, including mandatory confirmation of status for all incoming student-athletes (first-year and transfers) in 2013-14.

The approximate $220,000 distribution (reallocated from an anticipated 2012-13 surplus in the NASPA partnership to address alcohol other drug abuse) would give each active Division III school up to $500 to offset the costs of testing.

If the Presidents Council approves the concept at its Oct. 30 meeting, the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will figure out the administrative and financial details during a November teleconference. A subsequent request for final approval would go to the Administrative Committee to permit membership notification in advance of the 2013 Convention.

Management Council chair Jeff Martinez, the athletics director at the University of Redlands, said the Council supported the idea as a way to assuage continuing membership concern that a testing requirement places a financial burden on institutions (and student-athletes) that choose to pick up the cost of the test.

While $500 won’t cover all of the costs associated with testing the entire freshman class for 2013-14 (which Proposal No. 2-8 requires), Martinez said it represents a good-faith effort from the division to share the burden to ensure student-athlete health and safety.

“The Presidents Council, Management Council and the governance substructure have already indicated how important this proposal is to the health and well-being of student-athletes,” Martinez said. “But we also have sought input about the effects of such a proposal within a 450-member division that has a huge variance in the ability to provide resources when legislation mandates that institutions do so. Our endorsement of the allocation indicates we have heard the concern and are willing to help out as a division.”

Martinez said the $500 would in most cases cover the costs of about 30 to 50 student-athletes. The NCAA has negotiated an arrangement with Quest Diagnostics, a national lab service, to provide testing and results in a timely fashion for a reduced rate. For as low as just $8.50 (up to $32.50 depending on the process), student-athletes can receive their results in a matter of days.

If institutions average 150 new students each fall, Martinez said the $500 could handle about one-third of them. Assuming another third already have confirmed their sickle cell trait status upon coming to campus, that leaves a smaller portion for the school to account for financially in cases where students don’t pick up the costs themselves.

The action is the latest in what has been a yearlong effort to educate Division III schools and student-athletes about the risks associated with sickle cell trait. A proposal to require testing was referred at the 2012 Convention to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. That group reiterated support for confirming status in all student-athletes, and CSMAS members worked with the Division III governance structure to craft a revised proposal for the 2013 Convention.

The intent of Proposal No. 2-8 is “to provide education regarding sickle cell trait for all students-athletes and provide additional mandatory education for those that do not confirm their status.”

Under the proposal, schools can confirm the sickle cell trait status of student-athletes before participation in intercollegiate athletics in one of the following manners:

  • Documentation: The student-athlete may provide documented results of a sickle cell solubility test administered prior to participation;
  • Pending documentation: A student-athlete who has taken a sickle cell solubility test but whose results are not yet confirmed may participate provided the student-athlete engages in mandatory education and receives appropriate precautions as set forth by the institution; or
  • Waiver: The student-athlete may sign a waiver declining confirmation of sickle cell trait status. Before signing a waiver, the student-athlete shall be provided education regarding the implications of exercising the waiver option. Before athletics participation, a student-athlete who signs a waiver under this provision shall engage in mandatory education regarding sickle cell trait status.

Student-athletes who have been tested but do not have confirmed results documented or have signed a waiver shall be provided additional education regarding the risks, impact, and precautions associated with sickle cell trait.

The Division III Presidents Council will talk about the issue again at its Oct. 30 meeting. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also meets in November to take official positions on all Convention legislation. The Division III business session is Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Convention in Grapevine, Texas.

Other legislative positions

The Division III Management Council reviewed a dozen other proposals slated for the 2012 NCAA Convention and took positions on three of them sponsored by member conferences.

One from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference would expand the realm of contact to prospects to include private communication through a social networking site, as long as it is strictly between only the sender and recipient (for example, no use of public chat rooms, message boards, or public communication through a social networking site).

Management Council members voted to support the proposal, though concerns continue to percolate from within the membership about the nature of the contact. As with previous legislation regulating contact with prospects, the governance structure has turned to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for advice.

Plattsburgh State lacrosse student-athlete Tucker Glass, who is one of two SAAC members sitting on the Council, said his group supports the measure for the most part but is still gathering feedback from conference SAACs before the national committee meets in November to take official positions on this year’s legislative slate.

Glass said the national SAAC understands the nature of communication these days among high school students and that social media is to that generation as email was to its predecessors. However, some SAAC members wonder whether recruits understand fully how to maintain privacy within the various social media platforms. He said social media is becoming more “professional” in scope, with privacy settings and private messaging applications, but he said wonders whether any prospects would regard social media as their sole means of communication.

When asked in fact by a Management Council member about how he would like being recruited, Glass said he would prefer email or text as the initial contact, though he acknowledged the age gap potentially affecting what college students would prefer compared with would-be recruits.

Glass also noted – and some Management Council members agreed – how the proposal appears to benefit coaches (as an additional avenue to reach prospects) more than it gives prospects an enhanced way to engage.

All in all, though, the Council and SAAC continue to support the measure as a way to acknowledge how technology affects the recruiting process.

Management Council positions on membership-sponsored proposals:

Proposal No. 2-3  Amateurism – Promotional Activities – Prospective Student-Athlete’s Participation in Institutional Fundraisers

Intent: To allow prospects to participate in institutional fundraisers before their initial collegiate enrollment, provided the prospect has graduated and has forwarded the paid acceptance of the institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid.

Source: State University of New York Athletic Conference, Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Effective date: Immediate.

Management Council position: Support.

Other governance positions: Interpretations and Legislation Committee, support; SAAC, preliminary support (SAAC won’t take formal positions until its in-person meeting Nov. 8-11).

Proposal No. 2-4  Recruiting – Electronic Transmissions – All Forms of Private Electronic Correspondence Permitted

Intent: To specify that any form of electronically transmitted correspondence (for example, electronic mail, Instant Messages, text messages or facsimiles), including private communication through a social networking site, may be sent to a prospect (or the prospect’s parents or legal guardians), provided the correspondence is sent directly to the prospect (or his or her parents or legal guardians) and is private between only the sender and recipient (for example, no use of public chat rooms, message boards, or public communication through a social networking site).

Source: Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Effective date: Immediate.

Management Council position: Support.

Other governance positions: Interpretations and Legislation Committee, support; SAAC, preliminary support (SAAC won’t take formal positions until its in-person meeting Nov. 9-11).

Proposal No. 2-7  Awards and Benefits – Special Achievement Awards – Conference Postgraduate Scholarship

Intent: To permit NCAA member conferences to provide an award granting a scholarship for graduate school to one male and one female student-athlete that have excelled in the classroom, in athletics and the community and who have exhausted their eligibility.

Source: City University of New York Athletic Conference, St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Effective date: Immediate.

Presidents Council position: To be determined at the Council’s Oct. 30 meeting.

Management Council position: Recommend Presidents Council support.

Other governance positions: Financial Aid Committee, support; Interpretations and Legislation Committee, support (though members expressed concern about the “either-or” aspect of awarding the postgraduate award or the allowable conference scholar-athlete award); SAAC, preliminary support (SAAC won’t take formal positions until its in-person meeting Nov. 8-11).