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By David Pickle
Several membership-sponsored proposals led to frisky but productive debate during the Saturday’s Division II business session at the 2011 NCAA Convention.
“We had debate on a wide-ranging diversity of proposals, and I think that speaks to the fact that we had a large number of proposals that were sponsored by the membership,” said Presidents Council chair Drew Bogner. “In those proposals, it really demonstrates the democratic aspect of being a membership group where people can bring things forward and then we can have conversations about them.”
One such proposal, No. 2011-8, came from the Lone Star Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. It would have permitted strength and conditioning coaches to conduct and monitor specific voluntary workout programs for student-athletes from July 1 through the end of the institution’s summer vacation period.
MIAA Commissioner Bob Boerigter cited a study in which 52 percent of that conference’s football, volleyball and soccer student-athletes had remained in the institution’s community during the summer break and used the facilities as allowed under current legislation. He also noted that 43 percent of the student-athletes surveyed attended summer school anyway.
The conferences were joined by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “This proposal would help student-athletes to begin the season more physically ready and may reduce injuries,” said SAAC member Nathan Kafer of Regis (Colo.).
However, the Presidents Council opposed the proposal, with speakers noting that changing the rule would likely result in fall student-athletes being coerced to participate, with an accompanying loss of free time by strength and training professionals or coaches.
Delegates defeated the proposal by a vote of 117-167-2.
A membership amendment to Proposal No. 2011-16 was also notable.
The core proposal, sponsored by the Presidents Council, would permit an institution to employ prospective student-athletes at institutional sports camps and clinics under certain conditions, regardless of whether they had signed a National Letter of Intent or other agreement with that institution. The South Atlantic Conference offered amendment 2011-16-1 to limit employment to the institution with which the prospect signed a written commitment.
While the SAAC opposed amendment 2011-16-1, noting that it would restrict opportunities (especially for prospects who spend their summers at home), others felt strongly that the amendment was needed.
“I’ve never seen a piece of legislation that if passed unamended would create such ill will among institutions,” said Mars Hill Athletics Director David Riggins.
Augusta State AD Clint Bryant countered that “we can’t allow paranoia” to derail quality opportunities for prospective student-athletes.
In the end, the amendment was approved by the closest vote of the day, 145-136-3, with the amended core proposal also passing easily.
On Proposal No. 2011-17, the Northeast-10 and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conferences sought to specify that the dead periods that occur before the initial date for signing the National Letter of Intent are only applicable to prospects who are eligible to sign the NLI; also, that for prospects who are not eligible to sign the NLI, the 48 hours before the initial date for the NLI would be a quiet period.
Marcus Clarke, the senior compliance administrator at Shaw, got a chuckle from the crowd when he signaled a close to the debate by observing: “Let’s remain consistent. Let the dead be dead.”
The proposal failed, 97-184-1.
Finally, a PSAC proposal to permit competition in the nonchampionship segment in four spring sports without burning a season of competition overcame Presidents Council opposition and was approved, 218-51-6.
Except for that, the Presidents Council had a perfect day, with all of its sponsored legislation passing.
In addition to the Life in the Balance package, the Council was able to gain approval of the following key pieces of legislation:
“We put in place some policies and procedures that would ensure the academic integrity of the students and where they take courses and what they might transfer in,” Bogner said, “so everything that went through really comes from that same value perspective of making sure that we provide the best opportunity for students.”