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DII grants winter athletes further season-of-competition relief

Division II Management Council adjusts basketball championship selection criteria

Division II winter sport student-athletes who compete during the 2020-21 academic year will receive an additional season of competition through a waiver the Division II Management Council approved this week. In addition, student-athletes eligible for this waiver also will receive an extension of eligibility, according to a waiver previously approved by the Division II Administrative Committee.

The same flexibility was provided to spring sport athletes after their 2020 seasons were canceled and to fall student-athletes after the Division II Championships were canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, the Administrative Committee approved a pair of waivers permitting all student-athletes who competed during the 2020-21 academic year an additional year of eligibility and season-of-competition opportunities if their team completed 50% or less of their sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition. That flexibility still applies for spring sport student-athletes in the 2021 season.

The Division II Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement recommended the most recent waiver for winter sport athletes due to the likelihood that their seasons will be impacted by COVID-19 in ways similar to fall sports.

“Winter student-athletes lost out on their championship opportunity last season and many will have shortened, conference-only seasons this year,” said Chris Graham, commissioner of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and chair of the Division II Management Council. “We believe providing the maximum season-of-competition waiver flexibility is the right thing to do for winter student-athletes who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Related to the waiver for winter sport athletes, financial aid flexibility was proactively provided by the Administrative Committee during its Sept. 2 meeting. For the 2021-22 academic year, schools may exempt athletics aid given to all student-athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility during this academic year. This relief applies only to student-athletes who remain at their current schools. Transfers who would have exhausted their eligibility this academic year and receive athletics aid in 2021-22 will count toward team equivalency limits.

Championships

The Management Council reduced the minimum number of contests required for championships selection for men’s and women’s basketball from 15 games to 11 for the 2020-21 academic year.

The Division II Championships Committee recommended the reduction due to concerns about health and safety, flexibility and consistency.

The majority of Division II conferences will not begin athletics activities until after Jan. 1, resulting in a compressed regular-season schedule for basketball. The change to 11 games for basketball also aligns with the 50% reduction to other sports’ minimum required contest numbers for championships selection.

Additionally, the Management Council approved a proposal to change the dates of the 2021 Division II men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships from March 10-13 to March 17-20 in Birmingham, Alabama. To account for the date change, the council extended the playing and practice seasons for men’s and women’s swimming and diving from 144 days to 151. Their championships were originally scheduled to be part of the 2021 Division II National Championships Festival, along with the Division II wrestling and indoor track and field championships, but the 2021 festival was canceled due to health and safety concerns. The track and field and swimming and diving championships will remain at the CrossPlex, as originally scheduled. However, to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, one of the championships needed to change dates. The wrestling championships will still take place on their originally scheduled date of March 12-13 at a location to be determined.

DII Infractions Process

The Management Council advanced three proposals related to the Division II infractions process for the Presidents Council to sponsor for the 2022 NCAA Convention. The Presidents Council meets Oct. 28.

The proposals include enhancement tools like noncooperation penalties and importation of facts. Importation would allow the enforcement staff or Committee on Infractions to bring in information from outside proceedings, such as court cases. The council also advanced a proposal that would establish a negotiated resolution process similar to that of Division I’s.

The three proposals were put forward by the Division II Enforcement and Infractions Task Force, which was created to study the recent changes made to the Division I infractions process and recommend ways to enhance Division II’s process. The task force is expected to complete its work in summer 2021.