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Division II SAAC supports Convention proposals

Student-athlete committee weighs in on all 9 proposals for 2019

As the Division II membership prepares for the 2019 NCAA Convention, the national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has weighed in with positions of support for each of the nine legislative proposals Division II will consider.

The Division II SAAC representatives reviewed the proposals and took formal positions at their November meeting in Indianapolis. Next month at the Convention, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will cast one joint vote on each of the Division II-specific proposals on the floor of the Division II Business Session. SAAC will not vote on the lone Association-wide proposal, which pertains to adding five independent voting members to the NCAA Board of Governors; however, the Division II student-athletes voiced their support for the change.

Among the most discussed proposals was one that could increase the permissible time allotment for team activities outside the playing season from two hours to four hours per week for all sports but football. SAAC chair Josh Shapiro, a baseball player at Colorado Mesa, said the group ultimately supported the move but focused on what the change might mean for student-athletes in various sports. “It’s so sport-specific,” Shapiro said, noting that a switch to four hours of team activities in the offseason would be less tedious for some sports than it might be for basketball, soccer or volleyball. “There’s always a conversation in Division II about how these rules apply to different sports. As with anything, it’s hard to encompass a whole base with one rule.”

Ultimately, Shapiro said, SAAC voted to support the proposal because it would allow student-athletes more time to improve on their sport. “I think the two hours was kind of seen from student-athletes as an insignificant amount of time,” he said. “We’re student-athletes. We want to remain practicing with our coaches, and that’s something we’re passionate about, both excelling on and off the field.”

Under the proposal, which was sponsored by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the overall permissible time for countable athletically related activities a week would remain the same at eight hours. However, both the Presidents Council and the Management Council cited concerns that the change might still increase student-athlete time demands if hours spent on strength and conditioning activities are replaced with practice time in the offseason. The councils believed this could result in student-athletes feeling pressure to engage in strength and conditioning activities outside of the permissible eight-hour allotment. Both councils oppose the proposal. 

SAAC also supported a widely anticipated proposal to replace the required annual coaches certification test with educational modules in Division II University. The new online coaches education program that launched in the spring is designed to enhance understanding of the rules and issues that pertain to coaches’ roles in Division II, from recruiting and eligibility rules to health and safety best practices. The proposed legislative change would make a select number of modules in the program required for coaches each year, and coaches who do not successfully complete the modules would be prohibited from recruiting off campus and directing, supervising or observing countable athletically related activities.

The Division II Legislation Committee would be charged with determining the modules coaches will be required to take each year. A representative from SAAC sits on that committee, giving the student-athletes a say in those deliberations.

“This could be one of the most beneficial items for us, just given the impact SAAC can have in making a point on what we feel are important issues that need to be covered for coaches,” Shapiro said. “Having a voice on what modules coaches have to take only enhances the student-athlete experience, given that coaches have to know more than just recruiting.”