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DII Presidents Council identifies 2013 strategies, initiatives

By David Pickle 

Division II’s 40th year will be one of its most important, as shown by the overarching strategies and priorities that were approved Tuesday at the fall meeting of the Division II Presidents Council.

“We are at an important time in our division’s history,” said chair Pat O’Brien, president of West Texas A&M University. “We will be involved throughout 2013 in several important examinations and initiatives that will shape Division II for years to come.”

The three overarching strategies for 2013 are:

  • “Promote the success of our student-athletes − in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community − by striking a balance among athletics competition, academic excellence and social growth as we prepare student-athletes for lifelong success.
  • “Emphasize Division II not only as a membership destination but also as a division that offers exceptional value to its members − a division where schools, in a fiscally responsible way, can offer highly skilled student-athletes a place to compete for championships and enjoy a balanced collegiate experience.
  • “Continue to live the ‘collegiate model’ philosophy in Division II (so that) those who participate in college sports are students and intercollegiate athletics is embedded in the values and mission of higher education.”

The overarching strategies are based on the 2012-15 Division II strategic plan, which was released to the Division II membership at the 2012 Convention.

“Sometimes there’s a tendency to think of strategic plans as pie-in-the-sky documents, but we have a plan that directs specific actions,” said Division II Vice President Mike Racy. “We have some very particular work before us that will have long-lasting effects.”

The 10 priorities for 2013 (and the overarching strategy under which they fall) are:

Promote the success of our student-athletes.

  • 2013 Championships Festival. The division will conduct its second winter championships (seventh overall festival) March 3-9 in Birmingham, Ala.
  • Path to Graduation. A Division II task force will continue its comprehensive review of Division II academic requirements, including initial-eligibility, progress-toward-degree and two-year college transfer requirements. The “Path to Graduation” package of proposals will be considered at the 2014 Convention.
  • Division II Identity Workshop. The division will continue to emphasize the division’s strategic initiatives at the campus and conference levels by hosting a workshop for student-athlete advisory committee advisors and student-athletes.

Emphasize Division II as a division that offers exceptional value to its membership.

  • 40th Anniversary of Division II. The year 2013 will mark the 40th birthday of Division II. During the year, Division II will celebrate 40 years of legacies and continue to explore new avenues that will provide its student-athletes with a well-rounded collegiate experience.
  • Chancellor/Presidential Engagement in Division II. Division II chancellors and presidents will participate in the fourth Division II Chancellors and Presidents Summit during the 2013 Convention. Key areas of focus will be academics, enforcement and diversity/inclusion.
  • Division II Orientation and Education Programs. Division II will continue to initiate and provide programs to enhance knowledge about the division for key constituents, including athletics directors, faculty athletics representatives, coaches and student-athletes.

Continue to live the “collegiate model” philosophy in Division II.

  • Championships Selection Criteria. The Championships Committee will continue its review of selection criteria.
  • Enhancing Division II Operations. A review of enforcement and membership processes and a continuation of the Ease of Burden initiative may generate legislative or policy changes for the membership to consider in the near future.
  • Division II Project Team to Review Drug Testing and Education. A project team has been created to develop a strategy to deter marijuana use by Division II student-athletes.
  • Student-Athlete Experience Assessment. The division will continue to collect data from current and former Division II student-athletes to determine the effectiveness of the strategic-positioning platform.

The overarching strategies and priorities will be discussed in detail during the 2013 Convention in Grapevine, Texas.

In other actions at its Oct. 29-30 meeting, the Division II Presidents Council:

  • Elected two new Presidents Council members and ratified the elections of eight new Management Council members. They will be announced next week.

Voted to support a Great Lakes Valley and South Atlantic Conference 2013 Convention proposal to specify that during a student-athlete’s initial year of collegiate enrollment, participation in preseason exhibition contests or dates of competition and preseason scrimmages (competition that occurs before the first countable contest or date of competition in the sport) will not result in the use of a season of competition.