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Division II University program adopted as replacement for annual coaches test

Division II delegates adopt 8 legislative changes at 2019 Convention

Division II will have a new method for the annual certification of coaches, replacing its national standardized exam with a requirement to complete interactive modules in the new online education program, Division II University.

Division II delegates voted almost unanimously in favor of the change Saturday morning at the Division II business session at the NCAA Convention in Orlando, Florida. They also adopted seven other pieces of legislation, passing proposals that will introduce a new health and safety survey to the division, loosen restrictions for the timing of basketball and football camps and clinics, increase the time allowed for team activities outside the playing season for all sports but football, and more.

The move away from the annual coaches test to the Division II University training modules had been a popular proposal from the beginning, generating interest throughout 2018 among athletics administrators, coaches and members of the national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Division II University launched in spring 2018 as a voluntary resource for Division II members with more than two dozen interactive modules addressing key rules and issues. The new legislation requires all paid and volunteer coaches to complete selected modules in the program each year before they can recruit off campus and direct, supervise or observe countable athletically related activities. The legislation will be effective April 1, 2019, giving coaches more than two months to complete the required modules to be certified for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“Division II University was funded through the Foundation for the Future initiative and was born from feedback from coaches in the 2013 census that they felt disconnected and out of the loop on NCAA initiatives,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and a member of the Division II Presidents Council. “Division II University will be a transformative tool for our coaches. It delivers NCAA rules education as well as important health and safety information in an easily understood, interactive manner.”

In preparation for the vote, the Division II Legislation Committee, which will select the required modules from year to year, chose six modules for 2019-2020: two on recruiting rules, two on eligibility rules, one on mental health and one on sexual assault prevention. If a coach is unable to pass a required module, they will need to wait at least 24 hours before attempting to retake it. For newly hired coaches, there is a 14-day grace period that permits them to direct, supervise or observe countable athletically related activities before completing the required modules.

Kristina Ortiz, a golf student-athlete at Lynn and a member of the national Division II SAAC, spoke in favor of the proposal on behalf of Division II student-athletes, stating their belief that Division II University will enhance the knowledge and understanding of current legislation and health and safety education among coaches. Ortiz also noted that the program is optimized for mobile devices, allowing coaches more flexibility to complete the certification. 

Talk has already begun about expanding the online program for educational uses for other groups in the future. 

“Division II University is another shining example of the creativity and innovation that defines Division II,” Jordan said.

Health and safety survey

Division II members also adopted legislation that will require schools to complete a health and safety survey each year that focuses on the organizational and administrative elements of delivering athletics health care. The survey will be distributed via email by the NCAA each fall. The information collected will be shared through the NCAA Institutional Performance Program, providing Division II administrators the ability to compare their school’s health care delivery with their peers’ programs.

“Collecting accurate data is critical to the overall health and safety of Division II student-athletes,” said M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State and a member of the Division II Presidents Council. “As a division, we need to ensure that we have data-driven information to make knowledgeable, informed decisions both at the institutional level and in the Division II governance structure.”

The membership approved delaying the effective date for a penalty for failing to complete the survey, which is expected to take 45-60 minutes to finish. Beginning in 2022, annual Division II enhancement funds will be withheld from schools that fail to complete it.

The survey will be modeled off an annual Division I survey, now in its second year. Administered by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, the survey collects information on the resources, policies and procedures schools have in place for athletics health care delivery.

Other legislation

Division II members also adopted the following legislative changes:

Team activities outside the playing season: Members voted to increase the time allowed for team activities outside the playing season for all sports but football from two hours to four hours a week. The proposal, sponsored by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, will allow student-athletes more time with their coaches and teammates. The sponsors emphasized that the legislation is permissive and is intended to allow more flexibility for teams outside the playing season.

Football and basketball camps and clinics: Restrictions on the timing of football and basketball camps and clinics were loosened, permitting schools to conduct camps and clinics at any time. Previously, camps could only be held during the school’s summer vacation, a rule that did not apply to other sports. The new legislation also prohibits student-athletes from working camps in all sports during the seven day legislated winter break to ensure student-athletes have time away from campus during that period. It is effective immediately.

Football spring practice: In a vote limited to Division II schools and conferences that sponsor football, the membership extended the spring football practice period to permit 15 practice sessions within a period of 36 consecutive days, up from the current 29-day window. This allows schools more flexibility to spread out practices among a larger window and adjust for inclement weather.

Medical services for student-athletes competing unattached: School medical personnel will now be able to provide athletic training support or medical services to student-athletes who are competing unattached from the school at a competition site.

Student-athletes in the service: International students who participated in organized athletics competition while on active duty in their country’s military will no longer be charged a season of competition, an exemption that was already in place for the United States and Canadian armed services. The new legislation also exempts athletics participation that occurs during time spent on official religious missions or while serving recognized foreign aid services of the United States government.

Pre-enrollment academic misconduct: New legislation will clarify pre-enrollment academic misconduct activities for prospective student-athletes.