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DIII Presidents Council eyes key topics for future

By Brian Burnsed

The Division III Presidents Council convened on Thursday to finalize logistics for Saturday’s business session and discuss a handful of important topics facing Division III in the near future.

Following a conversation with NCAA President Mark Emmert regarding the overwhelming emphasis on specialization in youth sports, several council members noted it was imperative that members take steps to educate student-athletes and families about the diverse nature of the Division III experience that will better prepare them for life off the playing field.

On Wednesday, the Division III Management Council discussed budget overruns projected for the coming years, which are spurred by rising championship travel costs. The Presidents Council also broached the topic.

Alan Cureton, president at the University of Northwestern, will assume his roles as vice-chair of the Presidents Council and chair of the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee beginning this year. He noted that finding spending cuts to counterbalance the budding travel costs – which are expected to rise from nearly $9 million in 2012-13 to more than $13 million in 2017-18 – will be among the committee’s top priorities when it reconvenes in March.

Finally, the Council recognized a pair of departing members. Fred Ohles, president of Nebraska Wesleyan, took part in his final meeting. Council chair Jack Ohle presided over his final meeting – he is retiring this summer after a long career in higher education that was capped by his tenure as president of Gustavus Adolphus, where he assumed the post in 2008. Ohle played college football at Ohio Northern and went on to spend several years serving the NCAA on various committees, the Division III Management Council and the Division III Presidents Council.

“Being involved in the NCAA has brought me full circle,” Ohle said in his closing remarks. “Little did I ever know that I would be in this chair and have the opportunity to serve with such an outstanding group of individuals.”


Athletics Directors’ orientation

Division III on Thursday introduced an orientation session for new athletics directors. The two-and-a-half hour discussion was the first of its kind in Division III and targeted athletics directors who have spent two years or fewer in their posts.

NCAA staff and several experienced athletics directors who have served in the governance structure – including Emory’s Tim Downes, Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Darryl Sims, Alleghany’s Portia Hoeg and Redlands Jeff Martinez, among others – offered advice to their new counterparts. They broached topics ranging from the legislative cycle to the importance of faculty athletics representatives to the appropriate protocol to handle NCAA infractions.

Roughly 50 new athletics directors attended and remained engaged throughout, peppering those who had come before them with questions.

“This has been very helpful,” said Charles Gomes, of the College of Staten Island. “I wish I could’ve done this when I first started in April.”