You are here

Strategic-Positioning Outcome Area No. 1

Academics and Life Skills

The Vision:

Help Division II student-athletes earn their degrees, obtain and develop leadership skills, maintain healthy and productive lifestyles, and engage with their communities.

The Goals:

  • Develop and maintain metrics to help evaluate and advance academic success.
  • Support student-athletes in their efforts not only to complete their undergraduate degrees but also pursue postgraduate work.
  • Promote and honor student-athlete academic success.
  • Promote and honor institutions whose athletics programs achieve a high level of academic success.
  • Provide leadership and development opportunities.
  • Ensure student-athlete participation in the governance structure at the local, conference and national levels.
  • Protect student-athlete well-being through drug-testing programs and legislation and policy that enhance health and safety.
  • Support research and educational efforts that raise awareness and ensure health and safety.
  • Provide service and engagement opportunities for current student-athletes.
  • Promote and honor student-athletes and former student-athletes who have influenced their communities and institutions.

Committees/groups charged with oversight in these areas:

  • Division II Academic Requirements Committee
  • Division II Management Council
  • Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
  • Faculty Athletics Representatives Association
  • NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports
  • NCAA Honors Committee

Initiatives COMPLETED since the adoption of the plan in April 2015 that support these goals:

Path to Graduation Online Toolkit

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Develop and maintain metrics to help evaluate and advance academic success.
Brief description of the initiative: The digital toolkit designed to help the Division II membership understand and apply new legislation in the “Path to Graduation” initiative includes sections designed specifically for student-athletes, faculty athletics representatives, compliance officers and faculty advisors.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Academic Requirements Committee, in conjunction with the NCAA research staff and the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Status/metrics for success: COMPLETE. The toolkit debuted in the fall of 2015, and membership feedback has been positive, with more than 15,000 visits to the website since the toolkit debuted. The new Path to Graduation requirements began in August 1, 2016, when new standards regarding progress toward degree, as well as eligibility standards for student-athletes who transfer into a Division II school from a two-year institution, became effective. Changes in initial eligibility for all student-athletes take effect in August 2018.

SAAC Network

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Ensure student-athlete participation in the governance structure at the local, conference and national levels.
Brief description of the initiative: The monthly newsletter and information-sharing resource links national SAAC and NCAA SAAC liaisons with the SAAC president and SAAC advisor at every Division II institution. The network provides information and comment on issues relevant to Division II student-athletes. The interactive network also allows campus SAACs to share best practices and ask for suggestions from peers.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Status/metrics for success: COMPLETE. The newsletter launched in October 2015.

Best Practices for Faculty to Raise Awareness for
Student-Athlete Mental Health and Well-Being

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Support research and educational efforts that raise awareness and ensure health and safety.
Brief description of the initiative: Participants at the 2015 FAR Advanced Institute created a supplement for the model FAR document that educates FARs about addressing student-athlete mental health and well-being issues.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: Faculty Athletics Representatives Association, in conjunction with NCAA staff..
Status/metrics for success: COMPLETE. The best practices were printed and distributed to FARs and were posted on NCAA.org as well in a new section devoted to FAR resources.

Additional Funding for Degree-Completion Awards

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Develop and maintain metrics to help evaluate and advance academic success; support student-athletes in their efforts not only to complete their undergraduate degrees but also pursue postgraduate work.
Brief description of the initiative: $440,000 will be distributed over five years (2016-21) to provide additional funding to student-athletes who have exhausted their athletics eligibility to help them complete their undergraduate degrees.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Degree-Completion Awards Committee.
Status/metrics for success: COMPLETE. The initiative was among 10 to receive funding from the Foundation for the Future program.

Initiatives LAUNCHED and still being implemented since the adoption of the plan:

Helper Helper

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Provide service and engagement opportunities for current student-athletes.
Brief description of the initiative: Helper Helper is an online community engagement platform that makes it simple for schools and organizations to connect student-athletes to meaningful volunteer experiences and track their community engagement efforts.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, in conjunction with NCAA staff.
Status/metrics for success: The initiative was among 10 to receive funding from the Foundation for the Future program. Initial efforts in the 2016-17 academic year will be to raise awareness of the tool within the SAAC network and begin compiling and tracking data.

Academic Metrics Review

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Develop and maintain metrics to help evaluate and advance academic success.
Brief description of the initiative: The program will review the division’s metrics for gauging academic success, improve the accuracy of data collection and strengthen the foundation upon which academic policy decisions are made.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Academic Requirements Committee.
Status/metrics for success: The initiative was among 10 to receive funding from the Foundation for the Future program. Initial efforts in the 2016-17 academic year will be to conduct data reviews for selected Division II institutions to determine the accuracy of academic data 
submitted to the NCAA and identify consistent issues across the membership.

Monitoring the Effects of the New SAT

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Develop and maintain metrics to help evaluate and advance academic success.
Brief description of the initiative: To prepare for potential ramifications of the new SAT on eligibility standards, the Academic Requirements Committee is working with the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure that no prospects are negatively affected during the transition.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Academic Requirements Committee, in conjunction with the NCAA research staff and the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Status/metrics for success: Students planning to graduate in 2017 or after will take the new exam. The Academic Requirements Committee at its September 2016 meeting noted that the NCAA Eligibility Center used the concordance established by the College Board in May for operational purposes this summer with only a small percentage of student-athletes affected. The committee will revisit the issue to determine the appropriate operational process for the 2017-18 academic year at a future meeting.

Annual Student-Athlete Advisory Committee “Super Region” Convention

Goal(s) to which the initiative pertains: Ensure student-athlete participation in the governance structure at the local, conference and national levels.
Brief description of the initiative: To provide a SAAC convention each year to enhance student-athlete participation in the governance structure and enable student-athletes and administrators to better understand issues affecting Division II student-athletes.
Group(s) primarily responsible for implementation: The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, in conjunction with NCAA staff.
Status/metrics for success: The initiative was among 10 to receive funding from the Foundation for the Future program. The first “Super Region” Convention will be held at the NCAA national office in 2017-18 for the Midwest and Central regions.

EXISTING INITIATIVES implemented before the adoption of the plan that continue to support the goals in SPO No. 1:

Graduation Rates/Academic Success Rates Data Collection

Division II graduation rates and Academic Success Rate data are compiled annually, and conferences are provided template language to promote these rates to media and other constituents. The most recent overall ASR for the division (2006-09 cohort) is 71 percent, and the overall federal graduation rate for student-athletes (55 percent) is 6 percentage points higher than for the general student body (49 percent).

NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships

The program awards 58 grants (29 for men and 29 for women) of $7,500 for each sports season. In the 2014-15 academic year, 27 Division II student-athletes earned these grants.

Division II Degree Completion Award Program

Established in 2001, the program has distributed nearly $4 million to help more than 1,000 deserving student-athletes complete their first baccalaureate degree. In 2015, 82 Division II student-athletes received degree completion grants.

CoSIDA/Capital One
NCAA Division II Academic All-America Program

Established during the 2011-12 academic year, the program offers recognition for Division II student-athletes in all sports. The program has been a huge success compared to the previous version that lumped Divisions II and III recognition together in a “college division” category.

NCAA Elite 90 Award

This honors the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average at each NCAA championship finals site. Winners are touted nationally via NCAA.com, and institutions promote their recipients in their local media as well.

Presidents Award for Academic Excellence

Established in 2011, this annual award honors Division II institutions with overall Academic Success Rates of 90 percent or higher. In 2016, 26 institutions were honored.