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DIII dues increase may be delayed

Promising financial forecast curtails need for additional revenue

A Division III membership dues increase adopted at the 2016 NCAA Convention and slated to begin this year may be delayed.

At a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee recommended members be given an invoice credit for the additional dues they will owe in 2017-18 ($1,100 extra for schools and $550 more for conferences). The Division III Management Council will consider the recommendation when it convenes in April.

Thanks to an unanticipated one-time payout from the NCAA’s investment portfolio and a change in championship team travel budget forecasts, the committee favors crediting the amount of the dues increase for at least a year. The unexpected revenue more than offsets the $500,000 of income the membership dues increase would have generated. Given the new revenue and the shifting economic landscape many Division III institutions are facing, the committee was hesitant to ask members to pay higher dues in 2017-18.

“That unexpected windfall has had a positive effect on our budget,” said Alan Cureton, committee chair and president of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. “It’s not as critical for us to implement the dues increase immediately, so this wonderful opportunity to provide credit back to members within Division III was seen as a positive step by the committee.”

If its recommendation is adopted, the committee will revisit the topic in a year to determine if the dues increase should go into full effect for the 2018-19 academic year. The committee’s recommendation does not reverse the membership vote. Instead, it delays its implementation for one year given the division’s better-than-expected financial outlook.

Other actions:

  • The committee endorsed a series of championships enhancements recommended by the Division III Championships Committee. The changes include a subsidy for ground transportation at the championship site for teams and individual participants who fly to the event. Also included is a restoration of reimbursable travel party sizes to their levels in 2013-14. That change comes in the wake of a policy change implemented in 2014-15 to reduce travel party size across all sports by 10 percent, which has impacted some sports disproportionately.

    The enhancements also include bracket expansions in baseball, women’s golf, women’s ice hockey, and men’s and women’s lacrosse, as well as additional funds related to officiating and replay capability at championship events across several sports. Cumulatively, the changes are expected to cost nearly $2.5 million and would be implemented over the next two academic years, but will be offset by $1.3 million in budget savings from revised team travel expense projections. The committee remained committed to spending down the division’s surplus that exists beyond the mandated reserve. A majority of the new championships initiatives will be funded from that surplus. The Management Council will review these recommendations in April.
  • The Strategic Planning and Finance Committee approved a proposed budget relevant to Division III initiatives unrelated to championships. The budget for those initiatives will increase by more than $550,000 in 2017-18, including allocating additional funds for a sportsmanship program in collaboration with the Disney Institute and additional funding for strategic initiative conference grants and the Division III Ethnic Minorities and Women’s Internship Grant, among others. Over the long term, the budget adheres to the division’s policy of allocating 25 percent of its expenditures to nonchampionships initiatives and 75 percent to championships.
  • The Strategic Planning and Finance Committee also suggested a subtle tweak to the division’s reserve policy. Currently, the division keeps 50 percent of its annual operating budget in reserve, which includes a $5 million payout from an insurance policy that would be triggered if unforeseen events caused the cancellation of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The recommended change to the reserve policy calls for 50 percent of the operating budget to be kept in cash reserves, not including any potential insurance payout. The change mirrors the policy recently adopted by the NCAA Board of Governors relative to Association-wide reserves.