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New DIII graduate transfer proposal advances

Management Council supports recommendation for DIII-to-DIII moves

Rules pertinent to graduate transfers and eligibility in Division III likely will be subject to another membership vote in 2018.

In a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Management Council voted to sponsor a proposal that would permit student-athletes who graduate from a Division III institution and are enrolled in a graduate or second baccalaureate degree program to compete at the Division III institution of their choice. They must have athletics eligibility remaining and must participate within the pre-existing 10-semester/15-quarter limit. (These do not have to be continuous.) The Division III Presidents Council will weigh whether to sponsor the legislation at its August meeting.

This proposal is limited to Division III-to-Division III transfers. A proposal that would have permitted graduate transfers to Division III from all divisions was defeated at the 2017 NCAA Convention. In the wake of that vote, and at the behest of some within the membership — including Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee members — earlier this year, the Management Council’s Subcommittee for Legislative Relief began to explore how to make rules pertinent to graduate student-athlete participation more flexible. The subcommittee crafted the proposal that the Management Council now has endorsed.

While a waiver process exists that permits student-athletes to compete as graduate students at another institution if they completed their degree in less than four years and graduated with a 3.0 GPA or higher, the Management Council determined the subcommittee’s proposal offers more flexibility for Division III student-athletes to make the academic and athletic choices that best suit them. Also, it provides alternatives for student-athletes who missed time due to injuries to continue their studies and sports elsewhere after receiving their degree.

The Management Council noted the effect of the rule change likely would be limited, given the division’s prohibition on “redshirting,” by counting seasons of participation rather than competition. Dissenting voices in the meeting expressed worries about potential competitive imbalances and abuses of the rule, particularly to the detriment of institutions without graduate programs.

“The previous initiative, by which we would have allowed DI or DII athletes to transfer into a DIII institution, has been soundly and roundly defeated and justifiably so,” said Brit Katz, Management Council chair and vice president for student life and dean of students at Millsaps. “Now, we believe that a tighter framework in which only DIII schools would be considered would make our process more efficient and, most importantly, benefit scholar-athletes who want that fourth year of opportunity to participate in their sport.”

Other actions:

  • The Management Council sponsored legislation proposed by its Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee that would amend rules pertinent to the football preseason in the wake of the recent elimination of traditional, two-a-day contact practices. If adopted, the first permissible football practice date would fall 25 days before the first permissible Saturday contest date (regardless of an institution’s actual first contest date). The proposal also calls for a day off to be offered during the first six days of preseason, which includes the five-day acclimatization period, and a day off during each remaining week of the preseason practice period. On-field activity (including practice and walk-through sessions) would be limited to four hours per day, though schools would have flexibility to determine how that time is allotted. Institutions would, however, be capped at three hours of on-field practice per day, but could choose to conduct a longer walk-through in lieu of a three-hour practice. Footballs would be permitted during walk-though sessions after the five-day acclimatization period. The proposal, if adopted at the 2018 NCAA Convention, would be effective for the 2018 football season.

    In the spring, the Presidents Council approved a waiver that amended preseason practice rules for the 2017 season. The waiver and proposal were spurred by the release of the Year-Round Football Practice Contact Recommendations earlier this year. The Presidents Council will have the opportunity to take a position on the proposal next month.  

    The Management Council noted the importance of gathering membership feedback between summer meetings and the Nov. 1 amendment-to-amendment legislative deadline. Concerns and feedback would be forwarded to the Management Council’s Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee and ultimately back to the Management and Presidents Councils.

    “We recognize that more football coaches and athletics staffs have been included in our surveys and in our committee work leading to our vote,” Katz said. “And we feel more comfortable endorsing a recommendation for additional consideration knowing that our colleagues in sports like football are included in the debate that leads us to this decision.”
  • The Management Council sponsored a proposal from the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee that would no longer require a representative of a charitable, educational or nonprofit agency to sign a release statement ensuring any use of a student-athlete’s name, image or appearance occurs in a manner consistent with existing legislation. Instead, the proposal recommends that the student-athlete’s school provide educational materials notifying those entities of their obligation to adhere to promotional activities legislation. The proposal will be subject to a membership vote at January’s Convention.
  • The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee concluded its weekend meeting by convening with members of the Management Council. Together, the groups discussed SAAC’s priorities for the upcoming academic year, which include a focus on creating mental health resources — a video and a best practices guide — as well as crafting materials that enhance communication among student-athletes and conference offices and articulate ways student-athletes can have their voices heard in the division’s governance structure. The SAAC and Management Council discussed ways to improve communications between SAAC members and conference offices and debated the graduate transfer proposal. SAAC, in an informal straw poll, lent its support to the legislation.
  • Shantey Hill, current Management Council vice chair and assistant vice president and senior director of athletics at St. Joseph’s (Long Island), was elected the Management Council’s next chair. Kate Roy, senior woman administrator and associate director of athletics at Lyndon State, was selected to serve as vice chair. Hill and Roy will assume their respective roles in January after the Division III Business Session concludes.