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Division II Management Council votes down drug testing recommendation

Division II strategic plan, brand enhancement also covered at April meeting

After a lengthy discussion, the Division II Management Council did not support a recommendation to eliminate testing for marijuana and other “street drugs” at Division II championships.

The vote, which occurred last week during the council’s meeting in Indianapolis, came in response to a recommendation from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. The committee had proposed all three divisions sponsor legislation to remove “street drugs” – classified as marijuana, heroin and synthetic cannabinoids – from the list of NCAA-banned drugs, effectively removing these non-performance enhancing drugs from the NCAA testing program.

In place of this testing, the competitive safeguards committee called for a new, more effective drug intervention model relying on physical, mental and social components that would occur at the national and, more important, school levels.

The Management Council listened to rationale from NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline, who detailed research that led to the recommendation. The NCAA has tested for marijuana at championships since 1986, but usage among athletes has continued at a steady rate over the last 10 years. Additionally, data shows athletes who test positive for recreational drugs and are penalized are less likely to return to the sport and more likely to drop out of school.

While Management Council members were receptive to the concept of a new model that would better address and assist athletes with drug abuse issues, most felt more preparation is needed before dropping marijuana and other street drug testing. They expressed concerns about the perception of making the change before implementing the recommended intervention model and potential negative impacts it could have on an individual school’s efforts to test athletes year-round.

“By taking it away, it looks like you’re endorsing the use,” said Tim Ladd, the Management Council chair and Palm Beach Atlantic University faculty athletics representative. “The council was not ready to remove the street drug category without an educational piece already in place.”

Their counterparts in the Division III Management Council also did not support the recommendation.

Later this month, the Division II Presidents Council will discuss the issue.

“Make It Yours” update

Also at the Division II Management Council meeting, Blacktop Creative, the marketing firm leading the Division II brand enhancement, presented design concepts for the division’s new slogan, “Make It Yours.” Management Council members reviewed lettering variations and provided feedback for future presentations Blacktop will give to the Division II Presidents Council and SAAC. The full Division II membership will get the chance to vote on the final designs later this spring.

Strategic plan

The Management Council approved a new strategic plan to guide the division from the current year through 2021. The plan centers on five focus areas: academics and life skills; athletics operations and compliance; diversity and inclusion; game day and national and conference championships; and membership and positioning initiatives. The Presidents Council will review the plan later this month.

Convention proposals

The council recommended sponsorship of two proposals for the 2016 National Convention. The first proposal would allow athletes from NAIA schools to transfer to Division II schools without obtaining permission to contact as well as consent to use the one-time transfer exception.

The second proposal would enable athletes to participate in athletics while studying abroad without impacting their eligibility.

Membership feedback

Council members discussed a variety of other topics they will bring to other members of their conferences. In the coming weeks, they will be gathering feedback on proposed concepts and questions related to: