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DIII committees discuss football proposal

Student-athletes and university presidents are divided on contact during football's spring segment

In a prelude to what is expected to be a lively discussion at Saturday’s Division III business session, the Division III Presidents Council, Division III Management Council and Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee discussed a proposal that would permit contact during football’s nontraditional season during a Thursday morning meeting.

During the lengthy debate, SAAC members noted they support the proposal because it has garnered strong support among their peers who play football. The students also cited equity concerns: Other fall sports are allotted more robust nontraditional seasons, so why shouldn’t football have one as well?

“It is our hope that the membership listens to the concerns of their student-athletes who just want the opportunity to put their pads on and play the sport that they work so hard to participate in,” said Amanda Ingersoll, SAAC chair and a former student-athlete at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Members from both councils, though, argued that permitting more contact in the spring raises too many health and safety concerns, citing the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports’ decision to oppose the proposal. Presidents Council members also said seven additional days of padded practice, including three days of live tackling, might overburden athletics facilities and athletic training staffs. 

“I love the students’ passion and their perspective, and it was a healthy, in-depth look at the situation,” said Alan Cureton, Presidents Council chair and president of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. “From a presidential perspective, how do we best accomplish what the students are looking for, but at the same time make sure that we protect their academic time and their physical well-being?”

The groups also discussed the proliferation of wagering on daily fantasy sports in the context of NCAA rules pertaining to sports gambling, reviewed SAAC’s “It’s on Us” campus sexual assault awareness video and deliberated bolstering SAAC’s presence at future NCAA Conventions by inviting a SAAC member from each of the division’s 43 multisport conferences.

Presidents Council convenes

In a Thursday afternoon meeting, the Presidents Council, per a recommendation from the Management Council, voted to oppose both parts of a proposal that would deregulate rules regarding contact between coaches and prospective student-athletes via social media, as well as rules pertaining to the ways a school may publicize its recruitment of a prospective student-athlete. The legislation may be split into two separate proposals before it goes to a membership vote at Saturday’s business session.

The Presidents Council reemphasized its support for a proposal to raise membership dues, citing the need for additional revenue to offset per diem increases at championship events and fund improved access to the Division III Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. The proposal, which calls for annual school dues to rise from $900 to $2,000 and annual conference dues to increase from $450 to $1,000, will be subject to a membership vote during the Presidents Council grouping at Saturday’s business session.