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DIII legislative agenda may be reduced

By Gary Brown

Division III’s legislative agenda at this Saturday’s business session could be shrinking. After reviewing a 10-proposal package at previous meetings, the Division III Management Council at its Wednesday session was informed that sponsors plan to withdraw at least two of the proposals.

One of the withdrawals certainly affects one of the remainders. Sponsors of Proposal No. 7 to deregulate all forms of electronic communication in the recruiting process (including social media) have indicated their intention to withdraw the measure.

The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Little East Conference sponsored the “all-in” deregulatory approach, but Proposal No. 8 from the Management Council that deregulates only text messaging while maintaining the social media prohibition has consistently garnered more support from the governance structure.

At the Council’s meeting on Wednesday, members agreed to maintain their long-held opposition to the social media component, but they acknowledged that as technology continues to develop (just as text messaging evolved into a commonly accepted form of communication), it may be necessary to revisit the social media element in a few years. In that regard, the Council asked the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to monitor the issue.

The other proposal expected to be withdrawn is No. 6, which would prohibit schools’ certified strength and conditioning personnel from conducting voluntary workouts one day per week outside the playing season and during the mandatory day off during the playing season.

The sponsoring conferences, the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference and the New England Collegiate Conference, say they’d prefer to retool the proposal to more narrowly tailor the legislation to apply to the traditional segment.

In addition to their legislative review in their final meeting before Saturday’s business session, Council members also enjoyed a visit from NCAA President Mark Emmert, who complimented the division on its academic-reporting pilot and urged more regular and division-wide data collection.

“I would contend that this is important work and will be valuable not only in a PR sense but to help the division make decisions about what’s working and what’s not,” Emmert said. “This is critical information to counter critics who believe the term ‘student-athlete’ is either an oxymoron or a grossly inappropriate term. When we can demonstrate that our student-athletes are good students, we need to do it.”

Emmert also advocated development and active use of financial data contained in a pilot “dashboard” analysis system for college presidents and others to make more informed decisions about their athletics allocations.

Division III members will discuss the academic-reporting matter at Friday’s issues forum and will hear more about the financial dashboards at Saturday’s business session.

Emmert also said he appreciates the division’s recent partnership with NASPA (student affairs professionals) on a collaborative and strategic attempt to address substance-abuse issues on campus, including alcohol abuse, which many presidents regard as a primary concern for the entire student body, not just student-athletes.

He also complimented the Division III SAAC-led partnership with Special Olympics. Emmert personally saw events at the Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships in San Antonio in November in which coaches, student-athletes and staff interacted with the Special Olympics athletes. Emmert said the effect of the initiative on the atmosphere at the soccer championships was “over the moon,” and he encouraged more of the same as Division III continues its partnership with Special Olympics for the rest of the academic year.


Other highlights

In other action at the Management Council’s Jan. 11 meeting, members:

  • Noted that the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee has endorsed sponsorship of a comprehensive, division-wide survey during 2012-13 to understand current needs, challenges and successes. A similar survey has not occurred since February 2008.
  • Acknowledged the continued success of the Division III Conduct Foul Program and its impact on decreasing conduct fouls in those conferences that participate in real-time reporting. The Council noted that Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano, who was integral in getting the division to adopt such a program, is being formally honored as the 2011 recipient of the Bob Frederick Award at the beginning of Saturday’s business session. The Frederick Award annually honors an NCAA coach, administrator or staff member who demonstrates a history of sportsmanship.
  • Recommended that the NCAA Executive Committee adjust the Association’s Regional-Accreditation Policy to clarify that an active or provisional NCAA member institution that receives its accreditation as an additional instructional site, branch campus or additional location through a parent institution that is an NCAA member institution shall be considered to be meeting the NCAA legislation regarding accreditation. However, an active or provisional NCAA member institution that receives its accreditation as an additional instructional site, branch campus or additional location through a parent institution that is not an NCAA member institution shall be considered to have failed to meet the accreditation requirements of the legislation. All three divisions are reviewing that recommendation. The Executive Committee will review the matter at its Friday meeting.
  • Formally elected the Southern Athletic Association to active Division III conference status (effective Sept. 1, 2012). The SAA was established last year and consists of Birmingham-Southern College, Centre College, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, Oglethorpe University, Berry College, Rhodes College and Sewanee (the University of the South).
  • Heard an update on the identity initiative, noting that 32 percent of institutions and 25 percent of conferences have used 30 percent of the allocated budget for the purchasing website. Division III identity videos, including a series of customizable videos in which institutions can insert local content within a national video, also are being developed. The Council noted the importance of reaching out to the high school community of athletics administrators, coaches, admissions counselors, student-athletes and parents with the messages in the DIII platform.
  • Acknowledged the service of Chris Martin as chair over the past year. Martin, who has another year left on his term on the Council, is the commissioner of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. The Council also acknowledged Marywood University Athletics Director Mary Jo Gunning, who is completing her Council term.