NCAA D-III Council Adopts Measure for Rule Flexibility Across Divisions

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The Division III Management Council this week approved multiple measures that will impact playing rules, current legislation, COVID-19 waiver relief, NIL education and legislative proposals for the 2024 NCAA Convention. 

Federated playing rules

The council voted to adopt legislation to eliminate the requirement that playing rules be the same for all three divisions. The new NCAA Constitution, which became effective Aug. 1, 2022, includes a provision that calls for flexibility at the divisional level in establishing rules. This legislative change now aligns the divisional legislation with the constitution. 

Current legislation adjustments 

The council approved a legislative change permitting a student-athlete to continue to practice but not compete during the time in which a season-of-participation waiver or hardship waiver request is being reviewed. This change was recommended by the Division III Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement.

Additionally, the council adopted legislation that would treat participation in a college all-star contest the same as participation in any outside competition. Consequently, student-athletes would be able to participate in a college all-star contest and not lose their eligibility.    

Both changes are immediately effective.

"These changes are intended to better support student-athletes as they get the most out of their athletic and academic experiences," said Holly Sheilley, chair of the Management Council and vice president of athletics at Transylvania.

The council also approved several proposals in concept clarifying the new playing seasons model with respect to outside competition, skiing and the day-off requirement for track and field and swimming and diving. The proposals will be finalized in July and effective for 2023-24 academic year.

Blanket relief on full-time enrollment

The council extended the blanket relief of the full-time enrollment legislation from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years to all student-athletes who earned season-of-participation relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation permits a student-athlete who has not previously used any pandemic-related enrollment relief to participate while enrolled less than full time, under certain conditions. 

Working group on athletic trainers 

The council voted to support the formation of a working group to identify the issues impacting Division III schools' ability to hire and retain athletic trainers. The group will make recommendations to help schools address those issues. The working group will be formed over the next two months, with initial work slated to begin this summer.

NIL education resources for student-athletes

The council approved a resource for the membership: "NCAA Division III Institutional Involvement in a Student-Athlete's Name, Image and Likeness Activities." This resource will assist schools in providing guidance to student-athletes in the NIL space.

DIII Enrichment Fund

The council approved the process for hiring a third-party vendor to conduct an assessment of the Division III Enrichment Fund initiatives, programs and resources. The initiatives and programs supported by the Enrichment Fund either directly or indirectly affect the student-athlete experience. Conducting a comprehensive assessment will help ensure they are meeting expectations, align with the division's strategic priorities and continue to be in student-athletes' best interest. 

2024 NCAA Convention legislation

The council supported sponsoring 2024 Convention legislation to add stunt as an emerging sport for women. The Emerging Sports for Women program was created in 1994 as a pipeline to support the advancement of women's sports to NCAA championship status. A sport must have a minimum of 20 varsity teams and/or competitive club teams that have competed in a minimum of five contests to be considered for the program. At the 2023 NCAA Convention, the Committee on Women's Athletics asked the division to refer this proposal back to the committee for additional analysis.  

Additional items 

President Charlie Baker met with the council to provide an update on executive office engagement at the membership level, along with updates on congressional engagement and other recent work. 

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