The Division II Management Council voted this week to oppose a membership-sponsored convention proposal that would expand summer access opportunities for signed prospective student-athletes and student-athletes in team sports.
The Management Council also reviewed three other membership-sponsored proposals for the 2023 NCAA Convention. The proposals would impact spring football scrimmages, season-of-competition flexibility in football, and the basketball preseason.
At the Division II business session of the 2023 Convention in January, there will be 12 proposals — four membership-sponsored proposals and eight sponsored by the Division II Presidents Council (review all the proposals here) — voted on via the division's one-school, one-vote legislative process. For a proposal from the Division II membership to be voted on at an NCAA Convention, it must have at least 15 active Division II schools or two Division II conferences on behalf of 15 or more of their member schools as sponsors.
The proposal the Management Council opposed would expand summer access to permit signed prospective student-athletes and student-athletes in team sports to participate in individual workout sessions with a member of the coaching staff. The proposal has an immediate effective date.
Sponsored by the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the proposal specifies that access would be limited to two hours per week for a maximum of three weeks beginning July 5 through the start of the school's fall term. Additionally, the proposal specifies that a signed prospective student-athlete or student-athlete must initiate the request for the workout. A waiver permitting similar access was granted for the 2020 and 2021 summers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its opposition, members of the Management Council cited concerns that included signed prospective student-athletes and student-athletes feeling pressured to participate in summer activities and forgoing internships, summer jobs or study-abroad opportunities. The council also noted that the proposal could impact the mental health of student-athletes and support staff members, such as athletic trainers. Additionally, the council noted that although similar relief was provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, that relief followed a time period when many Division II schools implemented remote learning and canceled sport seasons, making it difficult for student-athletes to participate in anything.
The council took no position on two proposals related to football. Only schools and conferences that sponsor football will have a vote on these proposals at the Division II business session of the 2023 Convention.
One proposal would permit football players at a Division II school in their initial year of college enrollment to play in up to three games without triggering a season of competition. The proposal was sponsored by the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Great Lakes Valley Conference, Gulf South Conference, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the South Atlantic Conference. As rationale for the proposal, the sponsors cited it could enhance the student-athlete experience, help first-year retention and improve Academic Success Rates.
The other proposal would permit a football team to scrimmage against another four-year college during its spring practice period as one of its three permissible 11-on-11 scrimmages outside the playing season. The scrimmage would have to occur on or after the 10th day of the spring practice period, allowing time for student-athletes to become acclimated to full contact. Additionally, the proposal specifies that a student-athlete's participation in such a scrimmage would not trigger use of a season of competition if the student-athlete was academically eligible during the fall term.
First basketball practice
The council took no position on a proposal that would permit a school to begin on-court preseason basketball practice 35 days before the school's first regular-season game. Additionally, it would limit teams to no more than 25 days of countable athletically related activities during the on-court preseason practice period, providing more rest for student-athletes.
Current legislation permits schools to begin preseason practice Oct. 15, while the first permissible date of competition is the second Friday in November — a 27-day window between the two this year. Sponsored by the Great American Conference, Gulf South Conference and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the proposal aims to provide more rest and recovery periods within the basketball preseason for student-athletes.
- The Management Council recommended expanding the Division II Softball Championship's finals site format from six to seven days, starting with the 2023 championship. The finals site format was expanded from five to six days for the 2022 championship to enhance the student-athlete experience, while the Division II Softball Committee and Championships Committee reviewed whether additional expansion was appropriate. The Division II Presidents Council will review the recommendation at its Oct. 25-26 meeting.
- The Management Council received updates from several Division II governance committees regarding their initial discussions on items referred to them from the Implementation Committee. Those committees will continue discussions and seek membership feedback during their upcoming meetings before making any recommendations.