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Proposal would affect when schools count toward automatic qualification waiting period

DIII Championships Committee supports inclusion of institutions in year three, but not year two, of the reclassifying or provisional process

The Division III Championships Committee recommended allowing schools in year three of the provisional or reclassifying process, but not year two, to count toward a conference’s waiting period for automatic qualification in a division championship.

The division adopted legislation at the 2020 NCAA Convention that eliminated the fourth year of the membership process. Previously, schools in the last two years of the provisional or reclassifying process could count as one of the seven member schools a conference needs to have for two consecutive years before qualifying for an automatic bid in a championship. The committee, which met earlier this month in Indianapolis, believes that a change is needed to clarify schools in year two of the reclassifying and provisional process should not count toward the waiting period because they were not permitted to count before the adoption of the 2020 proposals. If passed by the Division III Management Council in April, the legislation would become effective Aug. 1.

Potential bracket expansion

Committee members supported the possible expansion of the field hockey and men’s lacrosse brackets by the 2020-21 academic year.

If the changes are approved by the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee and the Division III Management Council, the field hockey bracket would grow by two teams (24 to 26), and the men’s lacrosse bracket also would add two teams (36 to 38). The total budget impact would be approximately $110,000.

Based on projected sport sponsorship data, the brackets in the two sports merit consideration for expansion to align with the division’s championship access ratio.

While the committee realizes that this comes during the middle of the current budget cycle, it is customary to make the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee aware of potential bracket increases to determine whether they warrant immediate funding or to be considered among allocations for the next budget cycle.

Realignment model

The committee forwarded a proposed regional alignment model that would become effective Aug. 1, 2021. The proposed modifications would have to be approved by the Division III Management Council before they can be implemented.

The realignment model was finalized after 18 months of deliberation within the governance structure and with membership input, primarily from conference commissioners and sport committees, acquired throughout the model’s development.

The last regional alignment changes were made in the 2007‐08 academic year, and several sports have experienced exponential growth since then. The new model will provide more efficiency in the selection process with fewer teams per region, allowing regional advisory committees and national committee members to more thoroughly evaluate teams in the region.

A better balance of numbers across the regions also would allow an opportunity to rank a more consistent number of teams per region. Committee members will determine the number of ranked teams per sport during a future teleconference.

“I would like to thank the Conference Commissioners group for their hard work to make this happen,” said Kiki Jacobs, committee chair and director of athletics at Roger Williams. “We appreciate all of the feedback we received. Moving forward this new model will help balance the number of schools in each region so regional advisory committees can better assess teams each week.” 

In the future, the Division III Championships Committee will review the alignment every five years. However, the committee could conduct an immediate review in instances when conference realignment significantly impacts the number of teams per region.

If the committee determines during any review that changes are necessary, those will become effective two years afterward.

Single-sport conference transition to multisport conferences

The committee opted for a waiver guideline regarding how single-sport conferences may transition into a multisport conference.

A single-sport conference can maintain its automatic qualification during the transition period if it satisfies all conditions of a multisport conference and each member of the single-sport conference joins the multisport conference to maintain the automatic qualification.