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Division II SAAC takes positions on Convention legislation

Student-athlete committee prepares for first Convention vote

As it does every year, the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee established its position on each piece of legislation being considered at the upcoming NCAA Convention during its Nov. 21-22 meeting in Indianapolis. But this time, the committee’s decisions held more significance than ever before.

In January, the committee’s positions will be put to action with the first-ever Division II student-athlete votes cast at the NCAA Convention. The Division II membership passed legislation at the 2015 Convention enabling the committee of student-athletes to join the division’s “One Institution, One Vote” philosophy by casting a vote on each legislative proposal during the Division II Business Session, beginning in 2016. 

“The fact that we now have a vote that counts, it means a lot not only to national SAAC members, but to the other 110,000 student-athletes we represent,” said Roberto Baroniel, a recent graduate of Nova Southeastern University and chair of the committee. “We now have a legitimate voice in the decision-making process for DII.”

The committee voted to support seven proposals that address unattached competition, automatic qualification for championships, strength and conditioning, study abroad programs, individual skill instruction in football, progress-toward-degree requirements and conference challenge events.

The student-athletes voiced overwhelming support for the highly discussed health and safety proposal that would require certification for anyone overseeing strength and conditioning workouts in Division II. “This is my favorite proposal of the whole package,” said Grace Donovan, a student-athlete on the women’s lacrosse team at Florida Southern College. “I think it’s a huge step in the right direction.”

The committee opposed only one proposal: a membership-sponsored piece that would change the start date of preseason basketball practices. The student-athletes did not agree with lengthening an already long season, which they felt would contradict the division’s “Life in the Balance” philosophy. They also expressed concern about available facility space if basketball teams began practicing earlier in the year while fall sports were still in season. 

The student-athletes on the committee represent each conference in Division II, so the group took into consideration the questions and positions of their conference and campus SAACs when reviewing the proposals. “We really needed to take everything into account and make sure that whatever stance we take, we do our job and advocate as best as we can for our student-athletes,” Baroniel said. “It’s extremely exciting to be on SAAC at this point in time.” 

Recap of the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s positions on 2016 legislation:

No. Position/Vote Committee rationale
2016-1: Nationally recognized certification of strength and conditioning personnel Support
  • Division II SAAC believes this proposal is in the best interest of student-athlete well-being.
  • This proposal will not fix all safety concerns as it pertains to strength and conditioning. However, it is a step in the right direction.
2016-2: Eligibility of student-athletes participating in foreign exchange or study abroad programs Support
  • The proposal would give more student-athletes the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs, similar to the general student population.
  • It is an opportunity to enhance a student-athlete’s resume.
  • Consistent with “Life in the Balance.”
2016-3: Fulfillment of credit-hour requirements: Credits earned in a voluntary or optional minor Support
  • The proposal offers student-athletes the chance to earn a minor without delaying their time in school.
  • The proposal will help student-athletes diversify their resume in an ever-changing job market.
2016-4: Participation of ineligible student-athletes in outside (unattached) competition Support
  • Student-athletes should be eligible in order to participate in any competition.
2016-5: Individual skill instruction in football outside the playing season Support
  • This proposal will create consistency among all sports.
  • It is logical to allow football student-athletes to use footballs and field equipment for individual skill instruction during the off-season.
2016-6: Conference challenge events in baseball, softball and women's volleyball Support
  • The proposal would offer student-athletes an opportunity to participate in additional contests and flexibility in scheduling later contests for coaches.
2016-7: Start date and frequency of on-court practices during basketball preseason Oppose
  • The proposal is not in the best interest of student-athlete well-being and “Life in the Balance.” While the proposal does not add a large number of practice days, it does begin the 20-hour segment early for basketball student-athletes.
2016-8: Automatic qualification for championships Support
  • This proposal will place more emphasis on winning one’s conference tournament.
  • The proposal would offer the opportunity for more student-athletes to participate in postseason competition.