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DIII again tries to revise football preseason

By Brad Bankston

Old Dominion Athletic Conference Commissioner Brad Bankston at the 2017 NCAA Convention. Justin Tafoya / NCAA Photos

A proposal that would have altered the Division III football preseason to permanently implement important health and safety recommendations was defeated at the 2018 NCAA Convention, prompting the division’s members and governing bodies to explore the issue and emerge with a new proposal for the 2019 Convention.

This year’s iteration addresses three key concerns: costs associated with having student-athletes back on campus earlier; interference with end-of-summer camps and student-athlete internships and jobs; and permitting all teams to start practice on the same day even if teams’ first games fall on different dates and create an imbalance of available practice time from school to school.

The new proposal has been a collaborative effort among the Division III bodies: the Football Committee (which includes several football coaches), the Management Council Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee and the Presidents Council. All three discussed the issues that derailed last year’s proposal, with a focus on ensuring an acceptable number of practice opportunities, maintaining the prohibition on two-a-day practices and mandating one day off from physical activity every seven days after the initial five-day acclimatization period.

This proposal permits practices to begin 23 days before a team’s first scheduled regular-season contest — rather than 25 before the first permissible contest date, as in the previous proposal. The new proposal also includes flexibility regarding the number of hours that can be allocated for practice daily. 

Most importantly, the Management and Presidents Councils are seeking feedback through a membership survey. Together, we can work toward a legislative solution that takes vital health and safety recommendations into account, balances administrative concerns and offers adequate time for Division III football players to prepare for competition.

Brad Bankston is the commissioner of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and a member of the Division III Management Council.

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