Council shelves early-enrollment proposal, day-off exception
Recommendations by subcommittees to allow student-athletes an opportunity to register earlier than other students for classes and to eliminate the requirement to provide a day off from athletics activities during conference championships were not supported this week by the Division III Management Council.
The proposals, recommended for consideration at the 2009 Convention, failed to receive the two-thirds support from Council members that is required before asking the Division III Presidents Council to consider sponsorship.
The Council’s Academic Issues Subcommittee suggested amending Bylaw 16.11.1 to allow institutions to offer early registration exclusively to student-athletes. The subcommittee suggested that early registration can help student-athletes avoid scheduling conflicts between classes and practices or competition, and noted that it would be left to institutions to decide whether to offer such an opportunity.
Current legislation permits student-athletes to register early only as members of a student group that is granted enrollment priority for a reason unrelated to athletics, or if such an opportunity is available to other groups of students outside of athletics.
The proposal failed to advance to the Presidents Council after Management Council members expressed reluctance to permit student-athletes to be treated differently from groups engaged in other campus activities, such as choir or drama. Members also expressed concern that permitting early enrollment at smaller schools, especially for a course that might only be offered once a semester or annually, could put nonstudent-athletes at a disadvantage.
The proposal to exempt teams from taking the mandatory day off -- in the same manner as currently permitted for participants in NCAA championships -- was offered by the Council’s Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee.
Bylaw 188.8.131.52 requires that student-athletes be given one calendar day off from athletically related activities each week during the regular playing season, to minimize interference with student-athletes’ academic work and participation in other campus activities. The subcommittee proposed that conference championships be given an exception to the day-off requirement, like NCAA championships.
In its recommendation, the subcommittee, suggesting that preparation for the conference championship is in many ways more important than preparing for the national championship, also noted that eliminating the day off would not lengthen the playing season, and that institutions would have the option to continue providing it.
Opponents argued against providing additional exceptions to the day-off requirement, saying that doing so undercuts support for the principle, and also suggested that teams receiving additional practice opportunities during the week of a conference championship gain a competitive advantage over teams in conferences that do not have such an event.
In response to another subcommittee recommendation, the Council endorsed a proposal to permit more individualized assistance for student-athletes who work out voluntarily during the offseason.
The Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee, noting that current legislation permits coaches to design a “general” workout program for student-athletes to follow outside the declared playing season, suggested that coaches be permitted to provide a workout program tailored to specific needs and limitations of an individual student-athlete.
Council members agreed to forward the recommendation for consideration by the Presidents Council as a 2009 Convention proposal, after noting that coaches still would be prohibited from conducting such workouts and that the activity must remain voluntary.
The subcommittee also asked the Council to consider permitting student-athletes engaging in voluntary workouts to request “feedback” from coaches on whether adjustments in an individualized workout program are appropriate, but the Council decided not to endorse proposed legislation for that purpose.
Council revisits ‘noncontroversial’ proposals
The Council, which met Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis, also revisited a pair of “noncontroversial” legislative proposal -- including one that was adopted in 2006 and one that was rejected by the membership at the 2008 Convention.
The 2006 legislation eliminated a requirement that an institution’s team be charged with its once-in-three-years opportunity for a foreign tour if more than a limited number of student-athletes representing that institution participate on an outside team during a foreign tour. The action, handled as noncontroversial legislation that year, means that institutions only are charged with a foreign tour if the outside team consists entirely of an institution’s team members.
However, after receiving reports that coaches of institutional teams are organizing outside teams for foreign tours that include mostly institutional team members but also include a minimal number of other participants, the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee recommended reinstating the previous limits.
The Council agreed that a proposal to restore the limits, which vary from one sport to another, should be sponsored as proposed legislation by the Presidents Council and placed before the membership for a vote at the 2009 Convention.
The Council also endorsed a recent recommendation by the Division III Membership Committee resulting from the membership’s rejection at this year’s Convention of a noncontroversial legislative proposal that would apply the same penalties for failure to complete the annual rules test as are applicable for other violations of membership requirements (see article in the February 12 edition of the online NCAA News).
The committee recommended and the Council adopted a modification of the wording of Bylaw 11.8 based on intent to clarify that failure by a head coach or athletics administrator with compliance responsibilities to complete the annual rules test will be treated as a secondary violation of the legislation.
Championships in-region requirement
The Council also considered a proposed change in administrative regulations to establish a minimum requirement for in-season competition in the individual/team sports of cross country, golf and tennis (see article in the February 21 edition of The NCAA News), but asked the Division III Championships Committee to give further consideration to difficulties that schools may encounter in scheduling opponents, especially in women’s golf.
Council members expressed support for the committee’s intent to apply in-region requirements for championships selection purposes in individual-team sports that are comparable to requirements that have been enacted for team sports. The committee proposed that cross country, golf and tennis teams be required to schedule a minimum of 25 percent of regular-season competition against in-region teams, compared to the 50 percent requirement in team sports.
However, the Council asked the committee to study further the impact of the proposal on geographically isolated programs and in sports (especially women’s golf) that are seeking to encourage increased sponsorship by institutions, and to address such questions as whether teams should be permitted to count competition against in-region opponents at events conducted outside a region.
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