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DIII football proposal sparks debate, ultimately defeated

Three Recruiting Working Group proposals among those adopted by membership

A proposal that would have permitted contact during the football’s spring nontraditional segment was narrowly defeated, with 51.8 percent voting against the proposal, after the lengthiest debate of Saturday’s 2015 Division III Business Session.

Spring football in Division III will remain a no-contact segment.  

A proposal that would have permitted contact during the sport’s spring strength and conditioning segment was narrowly defeated on Saturday, with 51.8 percent of members voting against the proposalafter the lengthiest debate of the 2015 Division III Business Session

Proponents of the proposal stressed on the Convention floor the importance of contact to build proper skill and techniqueBut several college presidents and other administrators warned against the strains a more robust spring football segment might place on facilities and athletic training staffs. They also raised safety concerns

Later in the business session, a member who had originally voted against the proposal made a motion for reconsideration. SAAC also voiced support for reconsideration and NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline addressed the room regarding research on the positive and negative outcomes of allowing more contact in football practices.

The reconsideration vote, though, ultimately failed, garnering just shy of 49 percent of membership support.  

Recruiting rule changes

Three of the four proposals crafted by the Division III Recruiting Working Group were adopted on Saturday. An additional recruiting proposal was also approved by the membership

The working group proposals which passed include

  • The proposal that permits contact with recruits after their sophomore year of high school garnered an overwhelming majority of the vote

  • Seventy-two percent of members voted to permit recruits to sign an athletics non-binding standardized celebratory form;

  • And coaches will now be permitted to contact recruits on each day of competition at multi-day events, such as camps and tournaments, after they have finished competing each day. The rule was amended from the original proposal put forward by the working group that would have allowed coaches to contact recruits before or after they competed. 

The lone working group proposal that was defeated would have permitted on-campus evaluations of prospective students. Prior to the vote, the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee voiced reservations with the proposalNearly 80 percent of delegates voted in opposition. 

The only piece of recruiting legislation that did not originate from the working group – permitting recruits to make an official campus visit as of Jan. 1 of their junior year – was also adopted after 91 percent of delegates voted in favor of the proposal. 

Other legislative actions

  • A proposal to reduce the maximum number of contests and dates of competition in select sports by as much as 10 percent was referred to the Division III Management Council Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee. Sixty-eight percent of delegates voted to refer the proposal after the Division III Presidents Council made a motion to do so. 

  • The membership adopted legislation permitting a waiver of the exploratory year for Division III provisional and reclassifying members. The proposal passed with 96 percent of the vote.  

  • More than 90 percent of Division III members voted to create a National Collegiate championship for women’s sand volleyball, and 92 percent voted to establish women’s sand volleyball as a Division III sport. 

  • A pair of proposals addressing playing season start dates passed, each garnering more than 80 percent of the vote. Institutions will now be permitted to play their first basketball games on Nov. 15 or the preceding Friday if Nov. 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday. They will also be allowed to play their first football games on the Thursday preceding the weekend that is 11 weeks prior to the first round of the NCAA Division III championships. 

  • During the preseason, soccer and women’s volleyball teams will now be allowed to conduct an exempted preseason joint practice, scrimmage or exhibition with another school. The new legislation was adopted after it carried 76 percent of the vote.  

  • The membership voted to establish the concept of nullification – a quantitative method that affects win percentage and strength of schedule – to address ineligible student-athletes related to the selection of at-large teams for national championships and lower the minimum allowable fine for all secondary violations. The proposal carried 82 percent of the vote after a motion to refer the proposal back to the Division III Championships Committee was narrowly defeated. 

  • Division III student-athletes will now be permitted to participate in cooperative educational work experiences that are not required for their degree (e.g. internships) without an impact on eligibility. The proposal passed with 90 percent of the vote. 

  • A piece of noncontroversial legislation that calls for student-athletes to not be penalized if they receive improper financial aid and are unaware of the impropriety was referred back to Division III committees for further review.