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Playing, Practice Seasons Get Look

DIII continues to seek balance between sports and studies

By Chris Ragsdale
Commissioner, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference

Chris Ragsdale, Commissioner, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference

A comprehensive evaluation of rules governing Division III playing and practice seasons has begun in earnest. We hope to ensure our model for college athletics is sustainable and continues to serve the best interests of our schools and student-athletes.

This review was triggered when a trio of conferences brought forward legislation last year that would have reduced the maximum number of regular-season contests and dates of competition by as much as 10 percent in nearly every Division III sport. Their goal was to address the significant fiscal costs as well as the time demands facing our student-athletes, staffs and facilities.

At the 2015 NCAA Convention, members voted to refer the proposal back to the Division III Management Council’s Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee for a broader evaluation of all rules pertaining to playing and practice seasons. Our goal is to provide leadership for a comprehensive, deliberate, open and thorough review of the playing and practice seasons. Consequently, our committee has been working to identify concepts for review, including maximum contest and date-of-competition legislation; the non-traditional segments; length of playing seasons; and minimum contest requirements to satisfy sport sponsorship.

Additionally, the committee has identified target audiences – presidents, athletics directors, faculty athletic representatives and student-athletes, among others – to be included in discussions of all the relevant issues. Further, the committee has identified a list of resources, including survey data, that will be used to engage the membership. We plan to develop concepts that will be presented to the Division III Issues Forum at the 2016 Convention. 

I look forward to our committee’s continued work over the months ahead as we assess the concepts members value most regarding the playing and practice season as well as what they view are the greatest challenges to its sustainability.

Chris Ragsdale is commissioner of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and chair of the Division III Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee. 


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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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