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DIII Presidents Council backs sickle cell allocation

By Gary Brown

Sickle cell trait status confirmation for Division III student-athletes got a financial boost Tuesday when the Presidents Council authorized a one-time allocation to help schools defray the costs of testing if a proposal to require it passes in January.

The Council’s decision comes after the Management Council endorsed the allocation earlier this month. The approximate $220,000 distribution (reallocated from an anticipated 2012-13 surplus in the collaboration with NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) to address alcohol and other drug abuse) would give each active Division III school up to $500 to offset the costs of testing.

The action is in response to membership concerns about costs related to Convention Proposal No. 4 (2-8), which would require confirmation of sickle cell trait status for all student-athletes no later than the 2014-15 academic year, including mandatory confirmation of status for all incoming student-athletes (first-year and transfers) in 2013-14.

“This shows how committed the Presidents Council is to making sickle cell trait status confirmation a reality,” said Presidents Council member Bob Antonucci of Fitchburg State, who participated in the meeting via teleconference, as did several others due to travel arrangements being interrupted by Hurricane Sandy.

The Presidents Council supported the original proposal to require testing that was referred at the 2012 Convention to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports for further review.

That prompted a year-long effort to educate Division III schools and student-athletes about the risks associated with sickle cell trait. The CSMAS also worked with the Division III governance structure to craft a revised proposal for the 2013 Convention that provides education regarding sickle cell trait for all students-athletes and provides additional mandatory education and accommodations determined by the institution for those that do not confirm their status or test positive for the trait.

The Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will figure out the administrative and financial details of the now-approved financial allocation during a November teleconference. A subsequent request for final approval, if necessary, would go to the Administrative Committee to permit membership notification in advance of the 2013 Convention.

The Presidents Council also supported continued education of the sickle cell issue preceding the Convention in January. Among the outcomes of the 2012 Convention was a sense that the membership was not prepared to vote on the proposal because it was under-informed.

“I don’t think that will be the case this year,” said Presidents Council chair Jim Schmotter of Western Connecticut State. “The Council has authorized educational outreach to governance groups, conferences and individual members for the last 10 months. With two months still to go before the Convention, we are confident that we’ll have a well-informed delegation voting on this matter in January.”

The Council also reviewed other legislative proposals slated for a Convention vote, including a membership-sponsored proposal on which the Council was required to take a position since it falls into the presidential grouping.

Council members voted to support the proposal from the City University of New York Athletic Conference and St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that would permit conferences to provide a postgraduate scholarship to one male and one female student-athlete who have excelled in the classroom, in athletics and the community and who have exhausted their eligibility.

The Management Council had recommended that the Presidents Council support the proposal at its meeting two weeks ago.


Sandy grounds Council attendance

Hurricane Sandy affected millions when it made landfall along the East Coast on Monday and Tuesday, and the NCAA presidential bodies holding their meetings in Indianapolis those days were no exception.

Only six members of the Division III Presidents Council attended that group’s meeting in person, with seven of the eight remaining members participating via teleconference.

Included among those on the phone was Council chair Jim Schmotter of Western Connecticut State, who continued to run the meeting on Monday evening even as he lost power at his home. One of Western Connecticut State’s two campuses went dark later that night.

Many of the presidents from schools affected by Sandy met with their emergency-preparedness groups Tuesday morning. However, at no point during the proceedings was there less than a quorum in order to conduct business.

The Divisions I and II presidential groups also offered the teleconference option for their members.

Other highlights

In other action at the Division III Presidents Council’s Oct. 29-30 meeting in Indianapolis, members:

  • Agreed that the votes on all 13 legislative proposals at the 2013 Convention (the four in the presidential grouping and the nine in the general grouping) be conducted via roll call.
  • Approved the appointment of Northwestern College President Alan Cureton to fill an immediate vacancy on the Council created when Brian Levin-Stankevich left the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, to become the president at Westminster College, an NAIA institution in Salt Lake City. That term expires at the end of the 2014 Convention, but Cureton would be eligible for re-appointment to a four-year term at that time.
  • Authorized a membership survey in the coming months to allow Division III institutions to comment on the current state and future direction of the division. The survey, the first since 2008 (two years before the division’s identity initiative was launched), will help the Presidents Council and the other governance groups recommend strategic direction and budget allocations going forward. Institutions will be probed on topics including recruiting, championships, playing and practice seasons, academic reporting, amateurism certification, financial aid and grant programs. The survey will be administered in late January or early February. Member schools will have four weeks to complete the survey and submit responses online. Analysis will take place in March, and the first round of reports will be shared with the Management Council and Presidents Council at their April meetings. A final report will be distributed membership-wide in early May.
  • Heard from Brian Hainline, who recently was appointed as the NCAA’s first chief medical officer. Hainline, who officially begins his duties in January, previously was the chief medical officer for the United States Tennis Association. He is charged with creating a new Center of Excellence at the NCAA to function as a national resource to provide safety, health and medical expertise and research for physicians and athletic trainers. He also will oversee all student-athlete health and safety initiatives and coordinate with the NCAA’s main sports medicine panel, the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports.