INDIANAPOLIS---The Division III Management Council, which met October 18 and 19 in Indianapolis, took a brief look at early results from a membership survey that sought guidance on how to manage Division III’s growth and diversity.
But instead of focusing on how to interpret the results, the Council focused on how to engage institutions in discussion of the survey responses. Results of the survey will be discussed at the NCAA Convention in January and the membership will have the opportunity to provide input and feedback regarding next steps for the division.
Approximately 60 percent of the Division III membership completed and submitted surveys indicating their institutional perspectives to a broad array of areas by the September 30 deadline. In an effort to encourage the broadest participation in this first major effort in Phase II of the division’s discussion about its future, the Council is extending the deadline. Institutions that have not completed the survey may do so by Oct. 29.
The survey seeks membership reactions to questions in seven areas: management of growth; access to championships and other post-season opportunities; sport and program equity; sports sponsorship and broad-based programs; conference affiliation; academic success of student-athletes; and cultural and campus integration.
The Council plans to ask the recently formed “virtual focus groups” in Division III to review results of the survey, offer opinions about which issues seem most important and should receive high priority. The “virtual focus groups,” each moderated by a Council member, include chief executive officers, athletics administrators, student-athletes, faculty athletics representatives and coaches from each conference.
“We’ll use the virtual focus groups for vetting the survey results between now and the Convention, so that when we discuss this on the Convention floor, we’ll know we took these results, went out to the membership and asked for assistance to interpret results,” said Suzanne Coffey, director of athletics at Bates College and chair of the Management Council. “The Council demonstrated clearly in its discussion that it respects each institution’s responses to the survey, and that it will guard against overanalyzing or over-interpreting the results. We’re looking to the membership to help us understand the responses.”
In other actions, the Council reviewed proposed legislation for the upcoming NCAA Convention, scheduled for January in Dallas, including three proposals from member conferences and nine proposals that originated in the Division III committee structure.
The Council recommended to the Presidents Council that it oppose two membership proposals. One of those proposals would allow limited skill instruction – specifically, use of a football in passing-, catching- and kicking-related drills – during the currently permitted five-week conditioning and strength-training period. The other would permit coaches to provide safety instruction during voluntary workouts outside the gymnastics playing and practice season.
Division III, with 422 active institutional members and 140,549 student athletes, is the largest NCAA division in terms of institutional membership, though Division I has more student-athletes. 80 percent of Division III member institutions are private, and 20 percent are public. The diversity of that membership, in areas ranging from enrollment size to academic mission and geography, is an issue that the Division III governance structure is exploring more fully with the help of the survey, virtual focus groups and in-person visits to conference and regional meetings.
In other news, the Division III Management Council:
- Received a status report on the voluntary financial aid reporting “Division-wide pilot” program to test reporting systems before implementation of the mandatory process in 2005-06, noting that to date, 52 institutions have submitted final data so far.
- Approved an official interpretation that would permit an institution that is a member of a multi-sport conference, but participates in a sport independent from any conference, to use the “independents championship exemption” in that sport created by adoption of 2004 Convention Proposal No. 69.
- Approved a fall traditional season for the emerging sport of women’s rugby, and established a limit of 10 contests in the sport.
- Approved a Championships Committee recommendation that originated from the Baseball Rules Committee to disqualify both the offending individual and the head coach from a contest for a violation of the rule banning tobacco use.
- Granted the Great South Athletic Conference active member conference status.