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DI Council takes legislative and waiver action

Financial aid rules made more flexible to help student-athletes

The Division I Council approved a blanket waiver request to allow a Football Bowl Subdivision team to count for bowl eligibility and scheduling requirements two games against Football Championship Subdivision teams that meet adjusted minimum scholarship criteria. This adjustment applies only to the 2020-21 season.

Current FBS rules require an FCS opponent to have averaged 90 percent of the maximum number of football scholarships during a rolling two-year period for that game to count for bowl selection and scheduling requirements for the FBS team. The waiver allows the games to count if the FCS opponents average at least 80 percent.

Additionally, the Council declined to provide a waiver of the certification of compliance requirements, including a requirement that all athletics directors attest annually that they understand the school’s compliance obligations and their personal responsibilities regarding compliance. In addition, they must attest that athletics department staff members are aware of their responsibilities and the institutional obligations.

The Council also approved a waiver request from the Summit League for the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), a Division III school, to begin to reclassify to Division I. Last month, the Council introduced legislation that would create a process for Division III schools to reclassify directly to Division I.

The current 12-year process requires Division III schools to first reclassify to Division II before joining Division I. If adopted, the process to transition directly from Division III to Division I would require, at minimum, five years.

Council members also adopted legislation that would exempt from counting against team limits need-based financial aid given by the school that meets other specific criteria and other school-given, merit-based awards with no relationship to athletics ability. The rule is effective Aug. 1, 2020.

In conjunction with passing the legislation, the Council asked the Student-Athlete Experience Committee, which recommended the change, to conduct a comprehensive review of financial aid rules, including counter numbers per sport, average equivalencies per sport and roster numbers per sport. The study will ensure the legislation is helping students as intended.

In other legislative action, Division I conferences will be required to conduct a diversity and inclusion review once every five years and report back to the national office. The same requirement was adopted for member schools in 2019.

The Council also heard an update from the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. After electing a new chair and vice chair in June, SAAC will meet this week to establish its priorities for the year. SAAC will be discussing the recommendations for new name, image and likeness legislation, as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic and social justice issues facing the country.