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The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee documented more evidence of its influence Wednesday when the group’s formal position on a controversial fundraising proposal persuaded the Division III Management Council to change its mind.
Kirin Khan (right) and Brooks Royer explain the SAAC’s position on the fundraising proposal.
After hearing the rationale behind SAAC’s support for Convention Proposal No. 4, which would allow schools to designate money a student-athlete earns via fundraising toward that student-athlete’s actual and necessary expenses for the activity or item in question, the Division III Management Council at its meeting yesterday changed its “no position” stance to recommending that the Presidents Council back the SAAC.
If the Presidents Council does change its position at its meeting today (the presidents currently are on record as opposing the fundraising proposal), it will be the first time in more than a year that the governance structure has been on the same page in a legislative mix that to date has been one part confusing and two parts controversial.
The pros of the debate are that the proposal supports institutional autonomy and is permissive legislation. The cons are that it inadvertently creates inequities that could jeopardize team chemistry, potentially creates greater administrative burden to manage and, as a result, may not be the best solution to the perceived problem. Margins in straw votes throughout the year have been razor thin, but the SAAC’s meeting in November at which they took positions on Convention legislation may sway the decision.
SAAC and Council members Brooks Royer and Kirin Khan said feedback solicited from SAACs at the grass-roots level supported the notion of giving student-athletes more flexibility to raise funds during difficult economic times. Student-athletes also liked the fact that the legislation is permissive.
“We believe institutions are the best judge of how this legislation applies to their specific and individual circumstances,” said Royer, a former baseball student-athlete at Rhodes College. “And because this would be permissive legislation, institutions that don’t feel it would be in their best interests to apply it wouldn’t have to.”
Khan, a former rower at Mills College, said student-athletes who began as opponents also were swayed by the permissive element of the proposal. “Once they understood that, they decided that regulations shouldn’t be imposed if the school believes it would be beneficial to them,” she said.
The Management Council in October – after a close vote of its own – had taken a “no position” on the proposal as a way to let the membership decide the matter on the Convention floor without being influenced by the governance structure. But after hearing from the SAAC on Wednesday, the Council voted, 10-5, to recommend that the Presidents Council adopt the student-athletes’ point of view.