Division III approves similar but separate student-athlete services
Division III delegates split over a proposal to permit institutions to provide academic or other support services specifically for student-athletes so long as they are comparable to services provided for nonathletes, ultimately approving it by 50 votes following an occasionally contentious debate and after the first vote on the issue ended in a tie.
Delegates at the NCAA Convention in Nashville also agreed in a pair of close votes to restrict the use of male practice players in women's team sports -- an action supported by the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. But they rejected a Division III Presidents Council-sponsored proposal backed by the SAAC to require the presence of at least one person certified in first aid, CPR and use of an AED at athletics activities.
In another SAAC-supported action, Division III banned the use by athletics department personnel of text messaging and other electronic communication (except e-mail and fax) to contact prospective student-athletes. The proposed ban would include communication with recruits via text messaging, instant messaging and social networking sites, among other methods.
It also approved proposals to set the starting date for basketball on November 15 and to permit extending the regular season to “make up” a conference postseason contest suspended because of weather or other unforeseen circumstances for the purpose of determining a conference champion or NCAA automatic qualifier.
Both of those proposals were opposed by the Presidents Council because of their impact of slightly lengthening playing seasons, but proponents successfully argued that the basketball proposal would relieve scheduling pressures between Thanksgiving and holiday breaks, and that the "make up" opportunity is a small concession to permitting student-athletes to decide championships or postseason berths on the field.
The Council along with the SAAC also opposed the academic and support services proposal, which initially failed on a 215-215 vote with eight abstentions. But during reconsideration of the proposal, advocates successfully argued that student-athletes sometimes are deprived of access to services available to other students and that the proposal addresses that issue.
Some opponents including several presidents suggested the proposal runs counter to the Division III philosophy of treating student-athletes like other students and expressed concern that it might lead to such developments as providing tutoring services, while SAAC members said it could result in "segregation" of student-athletes from the student body. However, proponents said the proposal only is intended to ensure that student-athletes have the same access to services as all students, and some delegates suggested that defeat of the proposal actually might result in cancellation of programming that already is being offered at their schools and encouraged by NCAA grants.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association