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Division II Management Council supports proposals addressing strength and conditioning coaches, unattached athletes

The Presidents Council will decide next week whether to sponsor the proposals for the 2016 Convention

The Division II Management Council last week recommended that the Presidents Council sponsor a somewhat familiar health and safety proposal that calls for the certification of Division II’s strength and conditioning coaches.

The council’s action is the latest step in a conversation that dates to 2012, when the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports advised all three divisions to require national certification of anyone designing, conducting or monitoring strength and conditioning workouts. Last July, the Division II Management Council tabled the issue and established a working group to craft a recommendation that it believed would best serve Division II.

The resulting recommendation from the working group, which the Management Council supported, would require any person designated as a school’s strength and conditioning coach to be nationally certified. If a school does not designate a strength and conditioning coach, anyone who conducts strength and conditioning workouts – including assistant or head coaches -- would need to be certified. 

The CSMAS and the Legislation Committee both supported the recommendation in June before the Management Council endorsed it at its July 27-28 meeting.

Council members agreed that the certification requirement was a step in the right direction for the division and would provide flexibility to schools that choose not to employ a strength and conditioning coach. They hope other members will recognize the importance of the change rather than focus on the financial impact.

“The goal is to ensure student-athlete welfare and to reduce student-athlete injury during training,” said council chair Tim Ladd, a faculty athletics representative at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Katie Mnichowicz, a recent graduate of Upper Iowa University who represents the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee on the Management Council, told council members that student-athletes feel strongly about the issue. “Our biggest concerns are health and safety issues,” she said. “If they’re conducting our workouts, we agree they should be certified.”

The Division II Presidents Council will review the recommendation this week and decide whether to sponsor a legislative proposal that would be voted on at the 2016 NCAA Convention in January.

Unattached competition

The Management Council also supported two proposals that would change the Division II rules on student-athletes who compete “unattached” in individual sports.

During their intercollegiate playing season, Division II athletes currently can compete as individuals – rather than a part of their team – as long as they pay their own way, don’t receive coaching guidance and don’t wear their school’s uniform, among other regulations. But nuances of the legislation have caused confusion and concerns about fairness. Are some coaches and athletes abusing the rules? Are individual sport athletes receiving extra opportunities that aren’t afforded to team sport athletes? Are some students getting a de facto fifth season of competition? Council members discussed these and other questions at length.

The council combined two proposals developed by the Legislation Committee into one proposal that would prevent ineligible student-athletes from competing unattached and also prevents athletes from competing unattached at events where their college team is also competing.

“To say you can’t have unattached competition is too drastic,” Ladd said, noting that unattached competition has become a part of the culture in certain sports. “We’re trying to find the proper balance.”

In the event the combined proposal does not receive support from the Presidents Council or the membership, the council also advanced a separate proposal that would address only the eligibility component.

The Presidents Council will vote on whether to sponsor both proposals for the 2016 Convention next week.

Other actions

The Management Council also:

  • Supported a recommendation from the Championships Committee that would change the automatic qualification criteria for Division II championships events. The council recommended that the Presidents Council sponsor a legislative proposal for the 2016 Convention.
  • Approved a legislative proposal that would make it easier for Division II athletes to compete on an outside team while participating in a study abroad or foreign exchange program recognized by their school. Under the proposed legislation, such an experience abroad would not trigger transfer status or the use of a season of competition.
  • Supported the Membership Committee’s decisions regarding new member schools. Seven schools were approved for active status, bringing the total number of Division II schools to 307.