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Sport safety package highlights DIII legislative slate

By Brian Burnsed

Health and safety legislation will highlight Saturday’s Division III business session at the 2014 NCAA Convention.

Members will be asked to vote on three portions of the sport safety package first introduced by the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. The package would require that institutions submit data detailing student-athlete fatalities and catastrophic injuries; require that all coaches employed full-time maintain first aid, CPR and AED certification; and require that member institutions must designate a licensed physician to oversee the medical services for injuries and illnesses related to participation in sports.

While institutions would have discretion in determining the specific duties of the team physician, the NCAA Sport Science Institute would provide best practices that offer more detail and guidance, allowing member institutions to utilize their team physicians in a manner that is most appropriate to their circumstances. Both the Division III Management and Presidents Councils voted to support the package.

Another key piece of health and safety legislation would reduce the penalty for a positive non-performance enhancing drug (e.g. some street drugs) test from a full year of athletic ineligibility to a half-season.

CSMAS recommended the change in the wake of a 2010 summit that examined the NCAA marijuana policy, and the Sport Science Institute has noted that student-athletes who have tested positive for non-performance enhancing drugs and subsequently lost a year of eligibility have dropped out of school at alarming rates.

CSMAS hopes that a less severe sanction, coupled with education, would keep more student-athletes in school. Both councils voted to support the legislation, though the Presidents Council expressed its desire to one day abolish the non-performance enhancing penalty altogether.

The fate of several other pieces of legislation pertaining to specific sports will be decided on the convention floor. A proposal that would allow football helmets to be used in the spring no-contact period has evoked a great deal of debate among committee and council members.

Proponents argue it would make student-athletes safer and the period more effective, while opponents suggest that it would have the reverse effect, encouraging athletes to play more aggressively. For that reason, both councils voted to oppose the rule change.


Key Division III meetings and agenda items

Division III Management Council (Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

Division III Presidents Council (Thursday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

Division III Issues Forum (Friday, 8-11:30 a.m.)
Recruiting working group

Division III Business Session (Saturday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
10 legislative proposals, including:

  • Sport safety package
  • Use football helmets in out-of-season athletic activities
  • Street-drug penalty reduction
  • Limitations on scouting opponents at exhibition contests
  • Add women’s triathlon as an emerging sport
  • Establish acclimatization period in ice hockey