Division II Presidents Council opposes exempt contest legislation
Sides with Legislative Committee that proposal conflicts with Life in the Balance
By Brian Hendrickson
Lengthening the basketball season by two games would interfere with the time student-athletes spend being students, the Division II Presidents Council decided this week. The proposal now heads to a membership vote at January’s Convention without the blessing of the division’s presidential leaders.
The council unanimously voted to oppose the membership-sponsored legislation during its October meeting in Indianapolis, citing the conflict it would create with the Life in the Balance legislation the division passed nearly four years ago.
Life in the Balance synthesized the division’s philosophy into a defined action that reduced the length of sports seasons — including a reduction in the basketball season from 27 to 26 games — as part of its focus on reducing missed class and study time. The current proposed legislation would allow programs to play in two additional games each year as part of early season conference challenge events.
“Student-athletes like to compete, and their coaches like to compete, and they like to compete as much as they can,” said Pat O’Brien, president of West Texas A&M and chair of the Presidents Council. “But the position of the Presidents Council, the position of the presidents and chancellors in general, is we have to have some constraints so student-athletes can be students first and foremost, so they can participate in athletics and they can participate in other activities on campus.”
The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, the South Atlantic Conference and the Sunshine State Conference sponsored the legislation because they felt the exempt contests would increase inter-regional competition. The Division II Championships Committee agreed to support the proposal because of that benefit. And some proponents have argued that increased inter-regional play would help the basketball selection committees make postseason decisions.
But the legislation has found few other allies among Division II’s governance groups. The Management Council could not reach a consensus on the proposal during its discussions in October and elected to take no position, feeling it was best to let the membership decide. And the Legislation Committee opposed the proposal because it conflicted with the intent of Life in the Balance — the same argument the Presidents Council made during its debate.
“I think it’s getting back to what we were doing before Life in the Balance,” said Kutztown University of Pennsylvania president Javier Cevallos.
O’Brien agreed, describing the legislation as a backdoor attempt to increase the number of games in a season.
“They need to consider…the ability of students to have the full richness of the college experience,” O’Brien said of members who will vote on the proposal in January. “It’s all about the students.”
The Presidents Council joined the Management Council in taking no position on another piece of membership-sponsored legislation that would allow strength and conditioning coaches to design and conduct workouts for football student-athletes beginning on June 1. The committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport has supported the legislation because it also would require those coaches to obtain a national certification before conducting the workouts.
Council members agreed with the Management Council’s rationale for not taking a position: Because only schools who sponsor football will vote on the proposal, it should be left to them to decide.
Haas named council chair
In a unanimous vote, the Presidents Council named Grand Valley State President Thomas J. Haas as its next chair. Haas, the council’s vice-chair, will replace O’Brien when his term expires after January’s NCAA Convention.
Stromme named management council chair
The Presidents Council ratified the appointment of Karen Stromme, senior woman administrator at the University of Minnesota Duluth, as the next chair of the Division II Management Council.
The council also approved the appointment of Nova Southeastern University baseball student-athlete Roberto Baroniel to the Division II national SAAC.