The Division II Management Council decided during its July 21-22 meeting in Indianapolis not to approve a proposal that would eliminate a provision in the division’s constitution permitting football-specific voting. The issue divided the council, with more than half voting in favor of terminating the provision; two-thirds support by the council was needed.
The provision prevents schools that do not sponsor football from voting on issues that apply only to that sport. It was adopted in 1988, yet returned to the spotlight at the 2014 Convention when only football-sponsoring schools were allowed to vote on a proposal allowing strength and conditioning coaches to design and conduct voluntary summer workouts with members of the football team. In 2013-14, 169 of Division II’s 292 schools and 15 of the division’s 24 conferences sponsored football.
In April, both the Management Council and Presidents Council reviewed the proposed legislation to eliminate the specific vote. Management Council Chair and University of Minnesota Duluth Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator Karen Stromme had asked council members to seek feedback from their conferences, and that feedback was shared this week.
“I was extremely pleased with the process, to hear that Management Council members had gone back and led these discussions, and some even took straw polls,” Stromme said. “The council members went with what their conference voted. That’s who they’re representing.”
Those in favor of ending the football-specific vote have cited the need for equality among all schools and sports.
“Every DII institution has a sport or sports that impact their staff and present unique challenges for the institution and conference. Yet as a division, we don’t allow them the opportunity for exclusive voting on their issues,” said Anita Barker, athletics director at California State University, Chico. “I don’t believe that singling out a sport to allow for privileged voting is appropriate for the division anymore.”
Other council members stressed that circumstances arise in football that they said only schools and conferences with the sport could understand. Kevin Schriver, the faculty athletics representative at Southwest Baptist, said his school’s conference, the MIAA, believes “football presents very unique commitments and complexities for the universities sponsoring the sport,” citing personnel commitments, infrastructures such as stadiums and locker rooms, equipment and other university support for academics and financial aid.
“The history regarding this football-only voting privilege in Division II has served us well on votes related to equivalencies, acclimatization periods, spring practices, contact sessions and other such aspects specific to football,” Schriver added.
Although the proposal to eliminate the vote did not receive Management Council’s approval, it will be taken up next month to the Presidents Council, which will determine whether to sponsor it for a vote at the Convention in January.