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Division II votes to permit membership applications from schools in Mexico

All five legislative proposals pass at 2018 DII business session

Division II, the only division in the NCAA with a Canadian member, is opening its doors to another North American country.

On Saturday, delegates voting at the NCAA Convention's Division II business session in Indianapolis overwhelmingly passed legislation that will allow schools in Mexico to apply for Division II membership.

On Saturday, delegates voting at the NCAA Convention’s Division II business session in Indianapolis overwhelmingly passed legislation that will allow schools in Mexico to apply for Division II membership.

The legislation is effective immediately, providing the opportunity for Mexican colleges and universities to meet this year’s Feb. 1 deadline for Division II membership applications. Mexican schools applying for membership will need to meet the same standards as schools in the U.S., which includes having accreditation from a U.S. accrediting agency and completing the minimum three-year membership process. The Division II Membership Committee vets all applicant schools and determines those which will be accepted into the division.

“Higher education now more than ever before must lead the way in helping to build inclusive communities and foster diverse learning communities and learning opportunities,” Chico State president Gayle Hutchinson said to the Division II administrators and student-athletes in attendance. “Many of our schools already have academic programs that cross cultural and country boundaries. Adopting this legislation adds a similar opportunity for our intercollegiate athletic programs.”

Hutchinson stated that the legislation would “reinforce Division II’s identity as a leader and ground breaker.” In 2008, the division passed legislation to allow membership applications from schools in Canada, and in 2012 it welcomed British Columbia’s Simon Fraser as the NCAA’s only Canadian school.

The legislation welcoming Canadian schools in Division II was made possible through a 10-year, Association-wide international membership pilot program. In April 2017, the NCAA Board of Governors, the Association’s highest-ranking governing body, ended the pilot program and established a formal policy that granted each division the authority to pursue legislation permitting members from Canada or Mexico.

This year marks the second time Division II has considered whether to accept membership applications from Mexican schools. At the 2013 Convention, the concept was narrowly defeated.

The proposal adopted on Saturday was sponsored by three conferences in the west region — the California Collegiate Athletic Association, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and the Pacific West Conference — where schools sponsoring football, in particular, are farther and fewer between. Members hope that one of the benefits of adding schools from Mexico could be increased sponsorship of the sport in that region.

Several people at the business session rose to speak about other benefits. “This proposal will increase competitiveness, diversity and inclusion, as well as enhance the student-athlete experience in Division II,” said Josh Shapiro, a baseball player at Colorado Mesa and member of the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “This proposal will provide student-athletes with a cross-cultural experience.”

Simon Fraser President Andrew Petter noted that his school was proud to be the first international member of the NCAA, but he hopes they will not continue to be the only one. “I believe our participation has enriched the athletic culture and enlivened the competition,” he said. “Where issues have arisen, concerning border issues or passports, we’ve worked through them, and we’ve found creative and constructive solutions that work for our student-athletes and our coaches involved in the competition.”

Petter added: “I’m confident that there is much positive to learn from our experience, and if and when a Mexican school emerges that meets the test for NCAA membership, we stand ready to assist and work with others to help the NCAA to reach one more North American country.”

Other legislation adopted

The Division II delegates also passed four other proposals, including one on student-athlete awards that was adopted unanimously. The membership voted to:

  • Eliminate the legislated penalty for sports wagering, allowing sports wagering violations to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Provide greater flexibility regarding the type and value of awards student-athletes may receive, including loosening the restrictions around awards for competitions in which they are not representing their institution.
  • Allow football teams to begin preseason practice three days earlier – 24 days before the first permissible contest or 10 days before the school’s first day of classes, whichever is earlier.
  • Move up the competition start date in women’s volleyball by a week in years in which the Division II National Championships Festival occurs in the fall.

Read more about the new legislation here.