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DII group supports eliminating football two-a-days

New health and safety guidelines prompt emergency legislation

In a move to swiftly align Division II rules with new football health and safety recommendations, the Division II Management Council on Tuesday voted in support of a proposal to ban two-a-day practices during the Division II football preseason.

The proposal is considered “emergency legislation,” which the Division II Presidents Council can adopt and make effective immediately at its April 25-26 meeting. The change would need to be ratified by the Division II membership at the 2018 NCAA Convention.

The need for emergency legislation came to light in January, after the NCAA released new recommendations for contact in football practices. One of the recommendations is to discontinue two-a-day practices during the preseason — a period when student-athletes are more at risk for concussions and other injuries, new data show. Currently, two-a-day football preseason practices are permitted in Division II rules.

The NCAA Sport Science Institute along with experts from leading scientific and sports medicine organizations developed the recommendations, which serve as an update from guidelines released in 2014. They are supported by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports and more than 20 other organizations.

“We’re thankful for this research and want to make sure we respond in a timely manner to implement these suggestions,” said Gary Gray, athletics director at Alaska Fairbanks and chair of the Division II Management Council. “This emergency legislation will be helpful in creating a better environment for student-athletes.”

To help Division II schools comply with the new practice recommendations, the Division II Committee for Legislative Relief in February issued a blanket waiver that permits football teams to begin the 2017 football preseason three days earlier. (Teams may begin Aug. 7 or seven days before the first day of classes — whichever is earlier.) The waiver is intended to assist those needing to adjust practice schedules and ensure coaches have adequate time to prepare student-athletes for the season.

While supporting the emergency legislation, Management Council members expressed a desire for more details around the appropriate activities, such as weightlifting, that coaches could hold on the same day as a preseason practice or on a day off. The Management Council referred this issue to CSMAS and the Sport Science Institute and asked both groups to bring back clarifications on these activities. 

Injury surveillance system

Also at this week’s meeting, the Management Council established a task force to address Division II participation in the NCAA injury surveillance system. All NCAA schools are invited to use an official online system to report student-athlete injuries and illnesses, which NCAA sport rules committees, CSMAS and other scientific and medical groups use to make data-driven decisions.

After learning that just 6 percent of Division II schools are providing data, Management Council member Eric Schoh, athletics director at Winona State, proposed the council take action through a dedicated task force. “This is important work and important information to gather,” Schoh said. 

The task force will work to educate Division II members on the injury surveillance system and foster increased participation.

Other Management Council actions included:

  • Recommendations to the Presidents Council to sponsor two proposals for the 2018 Convention. One proposal would move up the start date for women’s volleyball in years when the Division II National Championships Festival occurs. The other proposal would eliminate the legislated penalty for sports wagering and allow the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement to review cases on an individual basis.
  • A request for membership feedback on a new white paper on regionalization. The white paper provides an overview of the concepts being explored by the Division II Regionalization Working Group, a team of athletics directors and conference commissioners who are leading a review of the division’s model for bracketing championships. The group is focused on reducing the number of in-conference opponents that meet in the first round of team-sport championship tournaments.