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Division III SAAC opposes social media deregulation

The committee votes to support all other proposals

The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee supports all but one of the proposals that will be up for vote at January’s NCAA Convention in San Antonio.

In a meeting this week in Indianapolis, the SAAC voted against a proposal that would deregulate electronic transmissions between coaches and recruits. The proposal would deem any form of electronically transmitted correspondence permissible, including public or private communication through any social-networking site.

SAAC members expressed several concerns with the proposal, noting that potential student-athletes may feel pressure to maintain public contact with coaches throughout the recruiting process and that communication on social media could become unprofessional. Allowing public posts from coaches could impact relationships with friends or with other coaches, committee members noted.

The SAAC’s concerns mirror those of the Division III Presidents and Management Councils, which both voted to oppose the proposal last month.

“After speaking with the student-athletes we represent, SAAC came out in strong opposition to this proposal,” said Amanda Ingersoll, SAAC chair and a former student-athlete at the Stevens Institute of Technology. “Although we agree with the rationale that prospective student-athletes are utilizing social media more and more, we do not feel that public transmission over social media is an appropriate way for coaches to be contacting prospective student athletes. … There are already so many ways for coaches to reach out to prospective student-athletes that we feel are far more appropriate and just as effective.”

The committee was in lockstep on the remaining proposals. While the committee was overwhelmingly in favor of nearly every one, the legislation calling for contact during football’s spring segment – including as many as seven days of practice with full equipment involving contact, including three days of live tackling – sparked debate. Committee members who opposed the proposal cited the safety concerns expressed by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports as well as feedback from the Presidents Council and Management Council, which both voted to oppose the proposal.

Committee members who supported the proposal noted that both Division I and Division II have similar formats in the spring and felt Division III should have comparable rules. Some noted practicing without pads makes athletes feel like they’re not in full uniform and aren’t properly preparing to play the sport. The committee ultimately voted to support the proposal.

“We have talked about the health and safety risks, the facilities and personnel concerns involved in executing a football nontraditional season of this format, and how this aligns with the Division III philosophy,” Ingersoll said. “However, we have also talked to football players – the student-athletes who would be impacted by this change. The bottom line is that they want to be able to play, and they want the same opportunities that are afforded to their peers in other sports. … It is our hope that the membership listens to the concerns of their student-athletes who just want the opportunity to put their pads on and play the sport that they work so hard to participate in.”

Other actions:

  • The committee discussed the agenda for its Convention breakfast with Management Council and Presidents Council members. At that meeting, the student-athletes will seek more clarity on the potential impact of the proliferation of wagering on daily fantasy sports and the current NCAA rules pertaining to sports gambling. The committee also hopes to discuss expanding the Division III student-athlete presence at Convention, potentially by ensuring that a student-athlete from each Division III conference is represented.
  • Committee members worked on a new video for the ongoing “It’s On Us” campaign to increase awareness of sexual violence on campus. The SAAC will show the video at the 2016 Division III Convention Business Session and will also distribute a best practices guide. 
  • The committee also elected new officers: Rob Wingert of Stevenson University as chair; Kayla Porter, a Frostburg State University student-athlete, as vice chair; and Greg Woods of Springfield College, who will serve as one of the SAAC’s two voting representatives on the Management Council. They will begin their respective roles in January.