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DII Management Council supports establishing championships festival working group

Council also recommends removing softball from 2020 Division II National Championships Festival

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Management Council recommended the Presidents Council approve a pair of actions from the Division II Planning and Finance Committee. NCAA Photos

Division II may soon have a working group to review the division’s national championships festivals, focusing on key aspects that include the timing of the multiday events, sports involved and other enhancements to the student-athlete experience.

The Division II Management Council discussed and ultimately supported the concept at its meeting Wednesday at the NCAA Convention in Orlando, Florida. On Thursday, the Division II Presidents Council will take its vote, determining whether to form the working group. 

Division II is the only division to host the Olympic-style events, which bring together multiple championships in one location. The festivals unite student-athletes from different schools and sports not only through competition but also through community-engagement events, consolidated housing in hotels, interactive lounges and celebratory opening and closing ceremonies. Results from the 2018 Division II Membership Census indicated continued support for the festival concept. The division has conducted 11 festivals since 2004 — the most recent in Pittsburgh in late November, featuring the fall sports of men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball.

The Division II Championships Committee recommended establishing a working group as a prudent step to evaluate specific aspects of the festival, like enhancements and logistics. The working group would be charged with ensuring the festivals continue to provide unique, positive championships experiences for Division II student-athletes.

“The working group won’t be looking at the viability of having a festival. It’s simply to look at making sure we’re providing the best experience possible for student-athletes,” said Pennie Parker, athletics director at Rollins College and chair of the Management Council.

If approved, the working group would be expected to make recommendations to the Division II Championships Committee by June. Any recommendations from the working group would apply to festivals in 2022 and beyond, not for those already scheduled in 2020 and 2021.

In addition, the Management Council voted on a significant, one-time change to the 2020 festival. Council members voted in favor of removing the softball championship from the 2020 festival due to the timing of the event and consequences it could have on the softball season. The Championships Committee and the Division II Softball Committee recommended the sport’s removal from that festival, stressing that teams would be required to squeeze in the same number of games into a schedule that is eight days shorter than most years. Withdrawing from that year’s festival would mean fewer midweek doubleheaders and less missed class time, proponents of the change say.

Some members of the Management Council expressed concern about the precedent the move would set, noting concessions other sports make to be a part of the festival. But the majority voted in favor of removing softball and moving the concept along to the Presidents Council for final consideration Thursday. If approved, the softball committee would immediately begin seeking bids to host the 2020 championship.

Planning and Finance Committee recommendations

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Management Council recommended the Presidents Council approve a pair of actions from the Division II Planning and Finance Committee.

First, the recommendation would reimburse Division II schools for their local ground transportation costs for team and individual travel during 2017-18 championships. The recommendation is consistent with the reimbursement that occurred for 2016-17 championships participation. The reimbursement would be determined as follows:

  • Team sports: $1,100 per day multiplied by the number of per diem days for each team.
  • Individual sports: $25 per day multiplied by the number of eligible travelers, times the number of per diem days.

The Management Council also supported the allocations recommended for the $1.9 million Division II budget surplus, which include a $3,000 per institution supplemental distribution, continued funding for DII University and other operational needs of the division