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Division II Membership Committee endorses new reclassification requirements, revisits athletics director proposal

A new application will soon be available for Division I schools looking to join Division II

Any Division I school planning to reclassify to Division II could have new requirements to meet in the membership process as early as this summer.

The Division II Membership Committee reviewed and endorsed the new requirements this month and in April will have the opportunity, along with the Division II Management and Presidents councils, to approve them in final form. An application will be posted on for Division I schools looking to join Division II, which will be due June 1 for any school wanting to begin the reclassification process in the 2015-16 academic year. 

In future years, applications for Division I schools looking to reclassify to Division II will be due Feb. 1.

While Division II has not received any formal inquiries from Division I schools looking to make the switch, recent changes in the Division I governance structure spurred Division II leaders to be proactive in addressing potential trickle-down impacts. At its November meeting, the Membership Committee determined that the current requirements for Division I reclassification needed an update. Committee members called for a better framework for inquiring schools.

“It is incumbent upon us as a division to continue to monitor what is happening and make sure we have positioned ourselves to continue what we believe is best for Division II,” said Division II Membership Committee chair Debbie Chin, the associate vice president and director of athletics and recreation at the University of New Haven.  “It’s better that we look at it now before we have institutions express an interest and we’re not able to provide the information and tools.”

Under the new structure, a Division I school reclassifying to Division II will have to complete at least a two-year membership process before reaching active membership. Division I schools will be held to many of the same requirements as a Division III or NAIA school in the provisional process, including acceptance into an active Division II conference and showing how the school will align with the Division II strategy and philosophy.

Due to differences in the way Divisions I and II distribute financial aid, the Membership Committee decided on a progressive model that they felt will best serve student-athletes who were awarded financial aid under Division I legislation. In the school’s first year of reclassification to Division II, the school will be held to Division II financial aid compliance standards only for the freshman class and transfers, while the sophomore, junior and senior classes may continue to receive financial aid as permitted in Division I.  The next year, both the freshman and sophomore classes will be held to Division II standards, and by year three, all four classes should be in compliance with Division II standards. In that third year, seniors would have an opportunity to receive a waiver.

When settling on the membership standards, the Division II Membership Committee discussed the need to strike a balance between establishing requirements strict enough to demonstrate a commitment to Division II and not discounting the standards the school abided by in Division I. “We’d be remiss not to respect the division they have been a part of,” Chin said.

Athletics director proposal

Also at the meeting, the Membership Committee revisited the athletics director proposal that was defeated at the 2015 NCAA Convention in January. The proposal would have required Division II schools to employ a full-time athletics director with no coaching duties, with a grandfather clause allowing people who currently serve in both roles to continue to do so for the remainder of their time at their current school. Delegates at the Convention business session first passed the proposal 164-144-3, but after a motion to reconsider, the decision was overturned by a vote of 137-157-1.

The Membership Committee, in keeping with its belief that a full-time athletics director should be a standard in Division II, asked NCAA staff to gather feedback and data from the membership that will inform governance meetings in April. Ultimately, the group hopes to recommend that the Presidents Council sponsor a similar proposal again in the future.