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DIII SAAC supports Convention proposals

Student-athletes vote in favor of all nine pieces of legislation

Division III student-athletes have made their voice heard regarding the division’s slate of legislative proposals that will be up for vote at the 2017 NCAA Convention.

At a Nov. 13-14 meeting in Indianapolis, the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee discussed and ultimately decided to support each of the nine proposals that members will vote on at the Division III Business Session.

A proposal that would permit graduate students to play a sport at a Division III school other than the one they attended as undergraduates prompted concerns among some committee members that schools with more robust graduate school offerings may have a competitive advantage over schools with few or no graduate programs. They also expressed concern that the rule change might encourage more transfers from Divisions I and II. Ultimately, though, the committee decided that the rule change would provide more flexibility for student-athletes.

“The proposal promotes opportunity for student-athletes to continue competing in the sport they love while also continuing to pursue higher education,” said Rob Wingert, committee chair and recent graduate of Stevenson University, where he played volleyball. “There are more students than ever coming into college with previously acquired credits, and others who continue to pursue education after receiving the bachelor’s degree, and those students have a right to complete their athletic experience. While there were concerns expressed about the idea of cross-divisional transfers, the overall added opportunity for student-athlete participation was the driving force.”

A proposal that would deregulate tryouts, allowing institutions to host or conduct events involving recruits — provided they are open to the public and do not offer reduced admissions to prospective student-athletes — also generated a deeper debate. Some committee members worried that the change might place too much pressure on recruits to perform in these events and could leave them blindsided if coaches lose interest after the fact. The balance of the committee, though, felt that the events would provide student-athletes more opportunities to get to know coaches in a competitive setting and would benefit athletes and member schools alike.

“Student-athletes across the country expressed excitement that more institutions and athletic programs would have the opportunity to showcase their campuses and facilities to a wider number of prospective student-athletes,” Wingert said. “These increased opportunities would alleviate pressure for coaches, reduce recruiting costs and hopefully enhance the quality of student-athlete competing at the Division III level.”

The committee also voted to support the following proposals:

  • Requiring athletics departments to establish an administrative structure that provides independent medical care and to designate an athletics health care administrator to oversee the institution’s athletic health care delivery.
  • Precluding donors of outside aid from restricting the recipient to attending a specific institution if athletics is a factor in awarding the aid.
  • Standardizing contest and date-of-competition exemptions across all sports other than wrestling.
  • Allowing field hockey and lacrosse teams to conduct an exempted scrimmage, exhibition or joint practice with outside competition before the first permissible contest date.
  • Eliminating the requirement that the mandatory day off for track and field and swimming and diving programs be the same day for every student-athlete.
  • Limiting the total number of participants in the provisional or reclassifying membership program to not more than 12 institutions.
  • Eliminating the window of reconsideration at the Division III Business Session.

Other actions

The committee elected new leadership and selected representatives to the Division III Management Council. Pending Management Council approval, the following student-athletes will assume their new roles in January:

  • Kayla Porter, who plays volleyball and studies at Frostburg State University, was elected chair.
  • Joseph Weber, a student and soccer player at the University of Texas at Dallas, will assume the role of vice chair.
  • Sean Michael Cain, a soccer player and student at Adrian College, and Megan Warren, who studies and plays softball at Defiance College, will serve as the committee’s two representatives on the Management Council.