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By David Pickle
Division II’s Management Council charted a new course at its spring meetings, looking for new ways of doing business that will make the most of divisional and institution resources.
Meeting Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis, the Council focused on the usual April review of possible legislation and committee reports. But the primary emphasis of the meeting involved strategic growth, reducing administrative burden and communicating more strategically.
“I’m confident that leadership is accepting the challenge not as things we can’t do but rather as more of a question of how we can do things differently,” said Management Council chair Rick Cole, athletics director at Dowling. “I know it’s a little bit of a cliché, but it’s reality.”
The questions about strategic growth and administrative burden were treated in several brainstorming discussions.
Regarding growth issues, members were asked to respond to several legislative concepts (most of which came with waiver provisions):
To specify that the Management Council, on recommendation of the Membership Committee, may establish an annual limit on the number of conferences that will be invited into active conference membership each year, unless unusual circumstances warrant a different action.
Management Council members expressed some concern about whether conferences should have the right to remain smaller than the revised minimums or if conferences might be pressured to take a school that doesn’t fit their profile in order to comply with the new requirements. Other Management Council members wondered if some consideration should be given to a maximum size for Division II conferences.
Management Council members also were asked to consider the establishment of an in-region, non-conference incentive plan that would provide funds to conferences with at least 12 members and with at least 15 in-region, non-conference games (at least three in each gender).
Some members wondered about the 12-member threshold since the minimum number of required members would be 10. The response from proponents was that the Long-Range Projections Task Force believes optimum membership for Division II conferences is about 14 members and is therefore encouraging growth beyond the minimum requirement. Further, with larger conferences, the schedules traditionally include more conference games. The incentive might encourage conferences to look for more games outside of their conference, If the fund is implemented, several Management Council members suggested that conferences be required to account for how the funds were used.
The Membership Committee is still seeking feedback on the recommendations. Nothing has been formally recommended, and the Presidents Council has not sponsored any legislation at this time. Any changes in legislation will be considered by the Division II membership at the 2012 NCAA Convention.
Further, Division II currently is in a moratorium for new conference members until January 2013, although the moratorium could be lifted before then, pending action at the 2012 Convention.
The discussion about administrative burden was distinct from previous examinations such as legislative deregulation. In this instance, the purpose of the brainstorming was to target time-consuming tasks that could be reduced or eliminated, either because a policy may no longer be needed or because a process could be improved. The Legislation Committee will lead the overall review in this area, with vetting across the spectrum of Division II constituencies.
Some concepts identified at the Management Council meeting included:
The proposed timeline for review of these issues by the Division II governance structure includes an initial review by the Management Council and Presidents Council in spring 2011, continual review by the Legislation Committee during its 2011 and 2012 in-person meetings and possible legislative recommendations for consideration by the membership at the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Conventions.
Less controversial recommendations may be considered at the 2012 Convention. However, the recommendations that require additional dialogue and debate will be vetted at the 2013 Convention.
The Legislation Committee welcomes any recommendations and feedback from all constituent groups. Such information should be forwarded to the following e-mail address: DIIeaseofburden@ncaa.org.
The Council also endorsed a Model Strategic Communications Plan, which will be officially unveiled at Division II’s Community-Engagement Workshop in June in Indianapolis.
The plan − developed over the last year through a collaboration of athletics directors, conference commissioners and sports-communication professionals – lays out a set of guiding principles, staffing models, and resources that will contribute to improved strategic communication.
In endorsing the document, the Council emphasized that the plan is a model (rather than a mandate) for athletics programs that want to improve communications.
In other business at its April 11-12 meeting, the Division II Management Council: