NCAA News Archive - 2008

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Presidents support nontraditional-contest play

Oct 31, 2008 10:08:17 AM

By Jack Copeland
The NCAA News

The Division III Presidents Council, acknowledging the primarily informal and practice-oriented nature of nontraditional seasons, agreed to support a membership-sponsored proposal for the 2009 Convention that would permit student-athletes in six sports to play in one contest during those periods without giving up a season of participation.

It is one of three proposals put forth for the Convention by member conferences that will be supported by the Council, which also decided to oppose three proposals – including one that would exempt conference postseason championship tournaments from the requirement to give student-athletes one day a week off from athletically related events.

The Council also reaffirmed its sponsorship of six proposals for the Convention, thus setting the stage for membership consideration of as many as 12 proposals in January.

The Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference and Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference are sponsors of the nontraditional-season proposal. Its adoption would represent a step beyond Division III’s action in 2007 to permit student-athletes to practice during the nontraditional season without being charged with a season of participation.

The Division III Management Council recently asked the Presidents Council to support the proposal, which the sponsoring conferences say would give everyone involved in the practice- and instruction-oriented nontraditional season in the sports of baseball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball and women’s volleyball an identical experience. Division III currently permits one date of competition during nontraditional seasons, but current legislation requires that a student-athlete who plays on that date must be charged with a season of participation.

The Management Council likened playing in the one contest during the nontraditional season to the experience of playing in a preseason scrimmage at the start of a traditional season – suggesting it also helps determine whether a student-athlete reasonably can expect to be able to play on a team.

The Presidents Council, which had opposed the 2007 action to permit practice without being charged with a season, agreed with the Management Council that the current proposal enhances the opportunity to try out and practice without giving any team a competitive advantage.

Presidents also agreed to sponsor a pair of membership proposals modifying exceptions to Division III tryout restrictions – one specifying criteria under which activities involving prospective student-athletes may be hosted by an institution, and the other permitting institutions to host an event in a sport that is not sponsored by that school.

The Council voted to oppose three other proposals.

It will oppose a proposal by the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic and Capital Athletic Conferences to exempt postseason conference competition from the day-off requirement, primarily because it believes student-athletes need that day off to physically recover from competition and to take care of academic and personal responsibilities.

The sponsoring conferences are suggesting that conference postseason play should be treated like NCAA championships, which already are exempted from the day-off requirement. The Management Council asked the presidents to oppose the proposal, disagreeing with the sponsors’ assertion that the difficulty of providing a day off between travel and practice requirements during conference competition merits the exception.

Presidents also voted to oppose a proposal to permit institutions to view NCAA data throughout a season related to criteria for ranking and selecting teams for a championship, and a proposal to establish an August 15 date for starting practice in fall sports.

The Presidents Council decided to oppose the championships data proposal after hearing that the Division III Championships Committee and the Division III staff continue to explore ways of working through regional advisory committees and other means to improve the sharing of data, and learning that the proposal’s projected $107,000 cost cannot be included in the Division III budget before 2010-11.

Council members also learned that one of the two leagues that initially sponsored the proposal, the Colonial States Athletic Conference, withdrew its support this week.

The Council voted to oppose the common start date for fall sports practice after the Management Council raised concerns about the financial impact for schools that might feel pressured to bring student-athletes to campus earlier than they currently do, as well as concerns about whether the August 15 date might cut short student-athlete participation in nonathletics activities such as foreign travel during summer months.

In a related action, the Council asked the Management Council’s Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee to further review the current legislated practice, in which institutions begin practice on a date that permits a maximum of 16 practice opportunities before the first contest or date of competition.

The Presidents Council’s positions on the six membership-sponsored proposals become the official Division III governance positions as a result of the Council’s decisions during Thursday’s meeting in Indianapolis. Those six proposals will be on the Convention agenda along with six Council-sponsored proposals, which the presidents reviewed and reaffirmed during the meeting.

Among the Council-sponsored legislation are proposals to require all head coaches to be certified in first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and use of an automated external defibrillator, and to add equestrian to the Division III list of emerging women’s sports and remove from the list four sports that have not made progress toward gaining sufficient sponsorship for an NCAA championship.

All 12 proposals for this year’s Convention will be published in the Division III Official Notice of the Convention, which will be available November 15.

In other actions, the Presidents Council:

• Reviewed reactions it has collected thus far from Division III institutional presidents to its recent series of “white papers” addressing membership-growth issues, noting that it anticipates a full discussion of the papers by presidents attending the upcoming Convention. Council members believe that the papers are encouraging discussion about the division’s core philosophical principles and the role and function of presidents in Division III governance, and that they ultimately will help position the division to vigorously promote its attributes.

• Received a report describing plans for a comprehensive review of all Division III programs supporting diversity and gender equity. The review will be conducted to evaluate whether the programs are sufficiently addressing the division’s objectives, and to ensure the establishment of meaningful goals for achieving diversity among student-athletes, athletics administrators, and participants in the governance structure. Council members asked to receive a summary of the results of the review upon its conclusion.




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