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DII SAAC supports Convention proposals

Committee also recommends civic engagement legislative concept similar to Division I’s for 2022 Convention

For the 2021 NCAA Convention, the national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee voted to formally support all the division’s legislative proposals, including one that would permit student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. 

Division II SAAC reviewed the proposals at its meeting by teleconference Nov. 21-22 and will next meet at the Convention, which will be held virtually starting Jan. 10. At the Division II business session Jan. 15, Division II SAAC will cast one collective vote on each of the Division II-specific proposals.

The name, image and likeness proposal, if approved, would change several Division II bylaws. The changes fall into two categories: activities related to student-athlete businesses, and the promotion/endorsement of third-party products and services

“We fully support moving forward with allowing student-athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness. Support of this proposal will give student-athletes the same opportunities as a normal student,” said Alex Shillow, a senior on the Texas A&M-Commerce football team who is pursuing his MBA and is chair of Division II SAAC. “Student-athletes are marketable and popular in the public eye, and this proposal will allow for those who have the opportunity to gain from that. This is exciting legislation, and we are proud to lead in the progression of collegiate athletics and the student-athlete experience.” 

Division II SAAC also supported a pair of similar legislative proposals pertaining to nonqualifiers. One would eliminate the nonqualifier qualification status and allow access to athletics aid and practice for all incoming student-athletes. The other would permit nonqualifiers access to athletics aid only. The proposal limited to athletics aid will be voted on only if the other is defeated via Division II’s one-institution, one-vote legislative process. Proposals need a majority vote to pass.

Feedback from Division II SAAC earlier this year influenced an expansion of the proposal to include access to both items, as the original proposal included only access to athletics aid. The committee’s rationale centered on the importance of student-athletes staying connected to their teams and how that can positively factor into mental health.  

“While either proposal will benefit student-athletes, Division II SAAC believes everyone should have the opportunity to practice and receive aid while pursuing a degree,” Shillow said. “We want student-athletes connected to their teams and working to graduate. Passing this proposal will ensure that student-athletes can focus during their transition into a college without the stress of finding a way to pay for school. Transitioning to a new school is hard enough already. Passing this proposal will alleviate some of the mental health burden that a nonqualifier may have when trying to figure everything out.”  

The proposal, which came from the Division II Academic Requirements Committee, would amend current eligibility legislation in a permissive fashion. If the proposal passes, schools will have the option of providing access to athletics aid and practice but will not be required to do so. 

Civic engagement legislation

At its November meeting, Division II SAAC also agreed to recommend for 2022 Convention legislation a concept similar to Division I’s recently enacted civic engagement legislation

The Division I legislation was proposed by Division I SAAC and approved by the Division I Council in September. It prohibits countable athletically related activities, such as practices and games, on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year. This change was in effect for this past Election Day on Nov. 3. 

Division II SAAC members discussed the Division I legislation and decided a similar concept would benefit all Division II student-athletes. It also would fit within the Division II “Life in the Balance” philosophy, in which student-athletes are recognized for their academic success, athletics contributions and campus/community involvement. 

“We are proud to move forward with a concept to allow student-athletes with a full day to participate in civic engagement, most notably to vote. We applaud Division I for their leadership on this initiative. Division II SAAC believes all student-athletes should have the same opportunity,” Shillow said. “Before we are student-athletes, we are citizens first, and this will allow us the opportunity to do our civic duty. This aligns with Division II SAAC’s focus and goal, ‘Rise to Vote,’ and will continue to reinforce the division’s ‘Life in the Balance’ philosophy.”   

Election

Angel Bautista-Ponce, a senior business major who is on the track and field team at Colorado Mesa and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference representative on Division II SAAC, was elected to the Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee. His term will begin in January.

The committee includes three representatives from each division, plus Tori Murden McClure, Spalding president and Board of Governors member, and Maisha Kelly, senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator at Bucknell. 

Division II SAAC will fill a variety of other positions for its executive board and its allotted positions within the Association-wide and Division II governance structures during the NCAA Convention.