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DIII extends enrollment flexibility during final term

Student-athletes now can pursue minor or certificate programs during final season of eligibility

Division III student-athletes now can compete during their final season of eligibility while enrolled in school less than full time in the final term of a minor or undergraduate certificate program.

The Division III Management Council approved the change during its meeting this week. Effective immediately, the change allows student-athletes to attend school less than full time if they are completing the necessary credits for a minor or undergraduate certificate program during their final season of eligibility. The new legislation expands the current exception, which  allows Division III college-athletes to be enrolled less than full time if they are taking classes toward their degree.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, council members felt this was especially relevant, as more and more student-athletes have completed their degrees but have a season of eligibility remaining. This allows them to come back and complete a minor or undergraduate certificate program, while attending school less than full time.

“This will ultimately provide additional opportunity for Division III student-athletes to realize their four years of athletic eligibility,” said Heather Benning, Management Council chair and executive director of the Midwest Conference. “The legislation, proposed by the Interpretations and Legislation Committee and supported by the Division III SAAC and Faculty Athletics Representatives Advisory Group, would position Division III similarly to Divisions I and II on this issue.”

Student-athletes must demonstrate that they can complete their minor or undergraduate certificate program. There is no minimum hour requirement.

Name, image and likeness

The council discussed potential changes to name, image and likeness legislation. The amendments discussed were recommended by the Interpretations and Legislation Committee and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The council also discussed a form that would be used to gather feedback from members before the council’s July meeting. 

COVID-19 and its impacts

NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline joined the council to discuss COVID-19 and the many ways the pandemic has impacted college sports and, specifically, the Division III membership. Hainline said the NCAA has a COVID-19 Playing and Practice Seasons Working Group that is looking at issues related to summer conditioning, the preseason, and fall practices and competitions.

Medical care coverage at away events

The Sport Science Institute and the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports are producing a document to remind each school of its legislative responsibility to provide medical care and coverage for its own student-athletes who are participating in sanctioned athletic activities, regardless of whether the events are taking place on campus or at another location.

This document, which should be released in late summer, will be an educational resource intended to provide membership guidance on the institutional obligations of medical care and coverage for NCAA student-athletes who are participating in school-sponsored practice and competition at locations other than their home facilities.

Other highlights from the two-day April Management Council meeting:

  • The council voted to allow schools in year three of the provisional or reclassifying process to count toward a conference’s waiting period for automatic qualification in a division championship. Provisional and reclassifying schools are in the process of becoming NCAA members in Division III or moving from another division to Division III.
  • The council supported changes to sport committee rosters to coincide with a new regional alignment model that provides more efficiency in the selection process with fewer teams per region, which will allow regional advisory committees and national sport committee members to more thoroughly evaluate teams in the region. The model will take effect in 2021-22.
  • The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee reported it will have its inaugural mental health social media campaign May 4-7.