Panel tackles issues raised in membership survey
Efforts to address issues suggested in a recent survey began this week as the Division III Membership Committee discussed various ways of responding to continuing membership growth.
The committee -- responding to a Division III Management Council referral of issues raised in the recent survey that also ended consideration of creation of a new division or subdivision as a solution for growth -- likely will revisit recently implemented compliance standards for active members and also explore whether the division would benefit from a dues increase.
It also discussed, as part of its educational role in preparing new members for active membership, ways to encourage schools to explore and evaluate all NCAA membership options before making a decision about which division to join.
The committee, meeting in Indianapolis, reaffirmed its support for heightened monitoring of institutions’ compliance with membership standards -- a response to membership growth that it proposed in 2006 and that was adopted at the 2007 Convention.
That legislative action implemented increased monitoring through audits of institutions’ compliance with sport-sponsorship minimums and tracking of required attendance at the Convention and regional rules seminars, for the purpose of holding current members more accountable for meeting membership standards.
The committee did, however, acknowledge concerns expressed in recent Town Hall Meetings on membership issues about the length of the 10-year probationary period that results from a first failure to comply with one of the standards, as well as suggestions that some types of violations (such as failing to meet sport-sponsorship standards) may merit more serious penalties than an isolated failure to attend the Convention or a rules seminar.
A second violation within the 10-year period results in such penalties as loss of Division III grants and ineligibility for championships, while a third violation results in an institution being moved from active to corresponding membership.
The committee likely will at least review the penalty structure, noting that any change would require proposed legislation, which would not be considered before the 2010 Convention.
Committee members also began consideration of ways to relieve the impact of growth on Division III resources, responding specifically to a request to consider whether an increase in the division’s current $900 annual institutional dues would help by making additional funds available for purposes ranging from programs serving student-athletes, to additional national office or conference and institutional staff support, to increased funding for institutional participation in championships.
The committee noted that because dues are considered Association-wide rather than division-specific revenue, an increase would not automatically be applied entirely to Division III uses.
The committee agreed that Division III should establish future funding priorities before seeking a dues increase or other additional funding to support services and programs.
In its recent referral of issues raised in the survey, the Management Council also asked the committee to consider ways in which Division III might encourage members to evaluate Division II as a membership option.
The committee, agreeing that providing information about all membership options is consistent with its educational role, suggested ways to help prospective members evaluate differences between Divisions II and III as they consider which might be a better fit.
Committee members supported offering as much information as possible before an institution officially enters the exploratory process for Division III membership, including providing more in-depth comparative information on the NCAA Web site and creating an online analytical tool that would enable institutions to evaluate and compare institutional costs and benefits of membership in either division.
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