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Division II athletics director proposal narrowly fails

Members approve similar compliance administrator proposal

Division II schools can continue to hire and employ athletics directors who also serve as coaches, after members attending the Division II business session at the NCAA Convention narrowly defeated a proposal to phase out the dual role.

As it has since its inception, the proposal drew heavy discussion among the membership during Saturday morning’s business session. The proposal called for all Division II schools to employ a full-time athletics director with no coaching duties, a standard that is currently  used for schools applying to become members of the division. The proposal included a grandfather clause to enable those currently serving in both roles to continue to do so only at their current school.

Delegates at the business session initially passed the proposal 164-144-3. However, toward the end of the session, the group voted to reconsider the issue, providing the opportunity for more commentary. When the second vote was taken, the proposal was defeated by 20 votes.

A similar proposal, mandating schools employ a full-time compliance administrator without coaching duties, passed easily, 222-86-1.  The Division II Management Council and Presidents Council sponsored both proposals.

According to a 2013 Division II census, about 12 percent of athletics directors and 5 percent of compliance administrators also serve as coaches.

Members expressed concern about the financial burden the athletics director legislation in particular would have on schools. They also stated a desire to maintain autonomy with staff employment decisions.

“Right now, all of us are facing significant financial pressures across both private and public sectors,” University of Mount Olive President Philip Kerstetter told the crowd. “I think this is a time to allow us to have the latitude to make those decisions. I ask you to trust us to make the right decisions for our individual institutions.”

Supporters of the proposal argued that it would reduce conflicts of interest, as athletics directors who also serve as coaches could show a bias toward their team. “It is important for a director of athletics to make fair and appropriate decisions as a leader of the institution’s athletic department,” said Kevin Schriver, the faculty athletics representative at Southwest Baptist University.

Some delegates also noted the need to create consistency in membership requirements across the division. Mickey Burnim, president of Bowie State University, said he came to the business session intending to vote against the proposal, but he changed his mind upon learning that incoming Division II members are required to employ a full-time athletics director with no coaching responsibilities.

 “It seems to me that equity and fairness dictates that we apply the same standards to current members as to those seeking membership,” he said. 

But with such a close vote on such a debated topic, enough members switched their stances upon reconsideration that it changed the outcome. Said one delegate: “I am not comfortable voting in favor of legislation that has such a significant impact on membership when 47 percent of membership voted against it.”