INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division II Presidents Council has approved the formation of a task force to study a new model for football within the NCAA structure.
The Division II Football Task Force will focus on the disparity in the level of competitiveness among Division II football teams, due in part to the differing levels of football financial aid offered. While Division II institutions may offer up to 36 grants-in-aid for football, many institutions offer much lower levels or even no aid for football student-athletes.
The task force will be chaired by Jerry McGee, president of Wingate University and a Division I-A football referee. McGee has worked 20 postseason assignments including 17 bowl games.
“The problem we face in Division II is that some schools cannot pay for as many scholarships as others. This makes them less competitive, which hurts the student-athlete experience. Many are considering dropping football as a sport, but we want to find other alternatives that don’t decrease opportunities for student-athletes,” McGee said.
An attempt to reduce the maximum number of football financial aid awards to 24 was defeated at the 2005 Convention. Opponents were concerned the proposal would reduce opportunities for student-athletes.
It was at the Convention that Roger Thomas, a member of the Division II Management Council and then director of athletics at the University of North Dakota, first floated the idea of reorganizing mid-level college football based on financial aid levels as opposed to divisional boundaries. Thomas is now commissioner of the North Central Conference.
His plan would combine Divisions I-AA and II into three levels based on the number of football scholarships offered at each institution. For example, football programs offering few or no scholarships would make up one football division, programs offering a moderate level of scholarships would make up another and programs with the highest number of scholarships would form the third. The compositions of Divisions I-A and III would not be affected under Thomas’ plan.
“The task force will explore a wide range of solutions, including a structure that includes Division I-AA. Partnering with the other divisions will require a high level of cooperation and I look forward to working closely with all three divisions, the conferences and institutions to find a solution that improves all levels of college football,” McGee said.
The committee will comprise representatives from each Division II football conference and a representative from an independent institution; Management Council members; the chairs of the Division II Football, Membership and Championship committees; and representatives from the Division II Collegiate Commissioners Association and the Division II Athletics Directors Association.
The Division II Presidents Council, meeting Thursday, also heard an update on a study that will assess the financial impact on institutions that move from Division II to Division I. The study is being conducted by Jonathan and Peter Orszag of Competition Policy Associates, Inc., who have completed a number of other economic analyses for the NCAA.
The results of the study will be made public at the Division II Leadership Summit, a gathering of 155 Division II presidents and chancellors June 24-26 in Orlando.