looks to 2009-10 budget
The Division III Championships Committee has reaffirmed scheduled increases in student-athlete per diem and funding of expanded travel parties in individual/team sports as its top budget priorities for 2009-10.
However, during its recent meeting in Indianapolis, it also acknowledged that uncertainty over rising travel costs likely will result in postponement of other items on its championships wish list. The committee agreed caution is justified in light of a comprehensive review of championships travel policies occurring now through January under the direction of the NCAA Executive Committee Finance Committee.
The committee anticipates Division III will be able to implement the second phase of a per diem increase, following up this year’s $3 increase to $78 with an additional $2 increase to $80 in the second year of the division’s two-year budget cycle.
It also still expects funding will be available in 2009-10 to begin paying for additional coaches or staff members to accompany larger travel parties in individual/team sports, which currently only are accompanied by one or two nonstudent-athletes, depending of the size of a squad traveling to a championship.
Both of those actions would be funded from annual inflation-based adjustments built into the Division III budget.
However, other enhancements the committee had hoped to pursue during 2009-10 – notably, increasing the number of football and baseball student-athletes participating in championships and a pilot program to add a flight in selected team sports – likely will have to wait until at least the next two-year budget cycle beginning in 2010-11.
“It’s important that we be prudent and proactive in the decisions we make, and that we don’t get in over our heads,” said committee chair Jeff Martinez, director of athletics at Redlands. “It’s better to move toward goals than to go all the way out to them, only to have to pull back, and I think that’s the approach we’re taking here.
“It’s important that the decisions we make now are decisions that we fiscally can afford three or four years from now, not just next year.”
The per diem increase, to help institutions defray the cost of housing and feeding student-athletes while they are competing in championships, would be the fifth increase in six years.
“Is $3 more per diem this year and $2 more next year going to make that much difference in current conditions? Will $5 over two years take care of inflation? It won’t, but it acknowledges the situation our institutions face in sending student-athletes to championships,” Martinez said. “It certainly can’t hurt.”
Meanwhile, the expanded travel party in individual/team sports helps in treating those student-athletes more like their counterparts in team sports, in budgetary terms.
“All of the individual/team sports have a uniqueness about them, but some – especially swimming and diving, or track and field – might have multiple student-athletes in different events, and those student-athletes have different coaches,” Martinez said. “But when they come to championships, either their coaches aren’t there with them, or institutions are incurring significant costs to bring the specialty coaches there.
“This is about the quality of the experience that young people have at our championships. We’re trying to acknowledge that these programs have more than one coach, or that they may need to bring an athletic trainer to care for a larger group of student-athletes.”
Under the committee’s formula for paying for additional travel party members, Division III would provide funding for one individual to accompany one to five student-athletes; two individuals to accompany six to 10 student-athletes; three individuals to accompany 11 to 15 student-athletes; and four individuals to accompany 16 or more student-athletes.
On hold for now are recommendations to increase the football travel party from 62 to 66 student-athletes and to add one player to the baseball squad.
“The rationale for adding another baseball player to the roster, and four more players to the football roster, is valid,” Martinez said. “The games have changed – in baseball, the need is relief pitching; and football is a vertical game with more receivers, more personnel packages.
“But, you have to weigh, is it more important to put more people on every sideline, or to be able to afford an additional charter flight or two when air-travel conditions make doing so unavoidable? We cannot control the air situation, and we have every indication that it’s going to get more challenging before it gets less challenging.”
The committee suggested that specific sport committees might be able to reallocate funds they have saved by controlling costs in other areas of championships administration to address other wish-list items, such as improving support for officiating. The committee agreed to explore that concept further.
The championships budget for 2009-10, ultimately subject to approval by the Division III Presidents Council, will be finalized next spring.
In other actions during the September 14-16 meeting in Indianapolis, the committee:
• Approved Montclair State as host for the 2009 Division III Softball Championship. It will be the first time since 1991 that the championship has been played in the Northeast.
• Approved Mount Holyoke as host for the 2009 Division III Field Hockey Championship, to be played at the college’s Kendall Sports and Dance Complex.
• Conducted its annual information-sharing meeting with sport committee chairs.
• Reviewed the number of student-athletes who are admitted to the bench area at each Division III championship. It agreed that current legislation (Bylaw 31.1.5) limiting to each championship’s established squad limit the number of student-athletes who may be in uniform also should govern the number of nonparticipating individuals who are permitted in the bench area.
• Approved a Division III Baseball Committee recommendation to return to a championship bracket format that was discontinued in 2004. Effective next spring, the tournament’s last undefeated team will play a semifinal game against an opponent with one loss, rather than advancing directly to the championship final. The purpose is to require teams to play a more comparable number of games to reach the final.
• Approved the Division III Men’s Golf Committee’s request for flexibility to employ an administrative cut to reduce the golf championships field after 36 or 54 holes of play to 15 teams, for weather-related reasons only.
• Denied a recommendation from the Division III Men’s Basketball Committee to set a minimum seating requirement of 1,000 to host preliminary-rounds games in the basketball championship and a 1,200-seat minimum to host sectionals.
• Selected Ira Zeff, director of athletics at Nebraska Wesleyan, as chair of the committee, effective at the February 2009 meeting.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association