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    Division II adopts Life in the Balance package

    Jan 16, 2010 12:35:39 PM

    By Gary Brown
    The NCAA News

     

    ATLANTA – Division II proved it was serious about shortening seasons and cutting contests to align with its strategic platform Saturday when delegates approved all four proposals in the presidentially led Life in the Balance package at the NCAA Convention.

    Delegates at their business session approved the following measures:

    • Provide a one-week-later date for the first permissible contest in all fall sports (to the Thursday preceding September 6) and a later reporting date for fall-sports student-athletes (17 days before the first permissible contest in soccer, volleyball, cross country and field hockey, and 21 days before the first permissible contest in football). The proposal also applies to golf and tennis for schools in conferences that conduct their lone league championship or most of its conference matches in the fall.
    • Reduce the number of contests in soccer from 20 to 18 and the number of matches in volleyball from 28 to 26, effective in August 2010.  The reduction in field hockey contests from 20 to 18 will be effective in August 2011.
    • Reduce the number of contests in baseball from 56 to 50 and the dates of competition in golf from 24 to 21. The proposal also eliminates the tournament exception in softball.
    • Reduce the maximum number of contests in basketball from 27 to 26.
    • Establish December 20-26 as a seven-day dead period during which no athletically related activities can be conducted in winter sports. The proposal also restricts voluntary activities for all sports during that time unless the facilities are open to all students.

    The four proposals were approved by wide margins after a year-long effort from presidents to take steps to ensure that the division's playing and practice season policies aligned with its balance-driven strategic-positioning platform. The proposals were generated after consultation with several constituencies by the Legislation and Championships Committees and then vetted through the governance structure for the past eight months.

    Division II Presidents Council chair Stephen Jordan from Metropolitan State said the passage of the package was "an absolute positive manifestation of presidential leadership" and a clear indication of the division's intent to align its athletics policies with its strategic position.

    "When chancellors and presidents in the division are committed and take the time to become involved in the process, their leadership can take the division in a positive direction," he said. "The votes today reflect that commitment."

    The closest vote was on the dead period, which passed by 63 votes. Opponents didn't like the prescriptive aspect of the proposal and wanted the Presidents Council to come back next year with a proposal to let institutions and conferences to decide a seven-day dead period that best meets their individual circumstances.

    But Presidents Council member Cheryl Norton said by establishing the same seven days for all student-athletes and coaches in Division II, they will be able to enjoy the winter break and focus in other areas of their lives, without worrying about any competitive commitments.

    "In addition," Norton said, "athletics administrators, athletic trainers and sports information officers will be able to have a legitimate seven-day period when all winter sports are not practicing or competing, and all other sports have limitations on voluntary activities."

    Both amendments-to-amendment regarding the Life in the Balance package also passed by wide margins. One delays the effective date of game reductions and season modifications for field hockey until August 1, 2011. Proponents cited the effect of next fall's National Championships Festival on the field hockey season as the need to give the 24 sponsoring institutions relief.

    The other amendment allows relief for geographically unique institutions regarding the seven-day dead period, permitting teams to travel on December 20 after an away game on the 19th as long as that is the earliest practical opportunity to return to campus.

    Delegates at Saturday's business session also adopted a major revision to the division's organized-competition rule, approving new definitions of organized competition and providing a one-year grace period between high school graduation and college enrollment for prospects to participate in organized competition without penalty.

    A proposal to structure playing and practice seasons and financial aid parameters for sand volleyball also was adopted.

    Delegates also approved a proposal from the Lone Star Conference, the South Atlantic Conference and the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association that eliminates the requirement for an institution to provide a prospect written notice of the five official-visit limit.

    In addition, a proposal from the Peach Belt Conference, the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to establish the first permissible contest date in basketball to the second weekend in November (rather than November 15) was adopted after reconsideration