How approved NCAA convention proposals impact Division II and III schools

Jennifer Jacobs
Jennifer Jacobs

Last month’s NCAA convention approved several legislative proposals that will go into effect this August. While most of the attention is regularly centered on the big Division I schools, the other two divisions will be affected as well.

Division II adopted six proposals, including: strength and conditioning coaches having to be nationally certified, and student-athletes must be both “athletically and academically eligible” in order to compete as individuals in outside competition, out of eight that were considered.

The other four: student-athletes have more flexibility to participate in foreign exchange or study abroad programs without affecting eligibility; student-athletes can use up to six credit hours per term earned “in a voluntary or optional minor” to meet academic requirements toward getting their degree; and a new rule, effective August 1, 2017, will make “automatic qualification for Division II championships” more accessible for various sports.

The fourth proposal — football players can be in up to two hours of individual skill instruction per week outside the season — is effective immediately.

However, Division II delegates voted against “conference challenge events” in softball, baseball and volleyball — they are currently allowed in basketball only.

Division III members —  251 athletics directors, 157 associate or assistant ADs, 118 students and 30 presidents and chancellors — met in small groups “issues forums” on several topics, reported Augsburg Assistant Athletic Director Jennifer Jacobs.  She and Augsburg senior Rob Harper were among those who took part in the discussions. Both are featured in this week’s Another View.

“Issues forums are nice because it’s formal in the setting but informal in the conversations.  It really gets people talking about what are the key issues facing Division III at the moment this year,” explains Jacobs.  “All the Division III representatives are there, and we usually are split up into tables.  They are usually guided conversations at the tables.”

Then straw polls are taken. “That makes it easier. Now we know what the membership wants from us,” notes Jacobs, a member of the Division III sportsmanship group.

The discussion topics included counting conference championships as one contest, reducing practices and setting standard start dates. Most members voted no on these. They also voted against the idea of limiting baseball and softball games or creating split seasons for both sports.

Said Jacobs, “There was more conversation on that issue…people really wanted to separate baseball and softball because they are two different conversations. A lot of people seem to [not] like them being clumped together.  I think they are going to look at baseball first because baseball historically has been more of the issue.”

Jacobs says a “deregulation of electronic transmission” proposal also was discussed.  “We as coaches can’t tweet a recruit” after they have committed and put down their tuition deposit to the school, she points out.

“We’re at Division III…trying to compete and recruit the kids who can play at the Division I and II level,” and this is a disadvantage for her and her fellow coaches at her division, states Jacobs.  “Kids don’t know that it is a [Division III] rule that’s against” using social media.  “We are trying to level the playing field.  Right now the only thing that is allowed in Division III is private communication.  Twitter is obsolete but you can private message them [on other social media].”

Off-season activities was another discussion topic: “Right now as a [Division III] coach we cannot talk to our student athletes in the off-season —  the strength and conditioning coach can but we cannot,” notes Jacobs, who also is her school’s assistant volleyball coach.

However, Jacobs was glad to report that a rule was passed that favors her sport, regarding youth volleyball players who play on school campuses in weekend tournaments.  “The rule before we couldn’t come to campus or talk with them before they play,” explains Jacobs.  “We basically had to require them to stay longer [and] visit the campus at the end of the tournament.  By then, the kids are tired and they want to go home after playing three days straight. So now they can come any day and we [coaches] can have contact with them.”

Finally, Jacobs says this year’s convention “was less rule proposals than in past years. “I always like conventions. It’s good to see Division I, II and III together. It’s been very exciting to be at the convention,” she concludes.

Information from NCAA.org also was used in this article. Augsburg Assistant AD Jennifer Jacobs will be featured in a later MSR article.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.