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By Gary Brown
If Division III approves legislation at the 2011 Convention that establishes a Division III Men’s Volleyball Championship for 2012, parameters will be in place to govern the new championship’s playing and practice seasons.
Anticipating a “yes” vote in January on Proposal No. 2011-2-11 (sponsored by the City University of New York Athletic Conference and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference) to begin staging the division’s newest championship by 2012, the Division III Management Council at its meeting on Monday approved – at least in concept – guidelines to regulate the length of season, the maximum number of contests and the nontraditional segment.
The parameters mirror those that exist for women’s volleyball, with the exception of the length of the playing and practice season (as a fall sport, women’s volleyball is subject to an 18-week limit).
However, a couple of them differ from what Division III programs currently playing under the parameters of the National Collegiate championship have been accustomed to. The most dramatic change is in the maximum dates of competition, which under the National Collegiate model have been 28 in the traditional segment and four in the nontraditional.
The extent to which reducing those dates of competition to 22 affects Division III men’s volleyball programs may depend on their appetite for playing multiple contests on individual competition dates. Many women’s teams conduct some of their nonconference schedules that way, but men’s teams typically stage dual-match competitions, in part because there aren’t as many Division III men’s programs near one another to make round-robins feasible.
So, while men’s programs have many more dates of competition, they typically don’t play that many more contests.
A USA Volleyball survey of the 55 existing Division III men’s teams showed that of the 18 respondents, some were concerned that a reduction in dates would translate to a reduction in competition opportunities. Others, though, were comfortable with modeling the playing and practice season after the women’s.
The Management Council’s playing and practice seasons subcommittee, meeting a day before the full Council session, noted that volleyball currently is the only sport that has different competition limits for men’s and women’s teams. Basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, skiing, soccer, tennis, track and field, and water polo all have the same maximum competition limits for men and women. Members of that panel also pointed out that 28 dates of competition is significantly more than any other Division III spring sport (golf, 20; lacrosse, 17; rowing, 20; tennis, 20; track, 18; women’s water polo, 21).
The subcommittee and the full Council noted that the new playing and practice season guidelines wouldn’t become effective until the 2011-12 academic year, assuming the proposal to establish the championship passes at the January Convention. Also, members noted the availability of a waiver opportunity for institutions that have existing contractual obligations that take them over the 22-date limit.
In other action related to men’s volleyball, the Management Council supported a Division III Championships Committee recommendation to establish a four-person committee representing two regions to administer the new men’s volleyball championship. That panel will begin its work after the Convention.
Once the championship is established, institutions sponsoring men’s volleyball will be divided into two sport regions for the purpose of defining in-region competition and evaluating teams. Two committee members will be assigned to each of those two regions.
The Management Council also supported a recommendation from the Interpretations and Legislation Committee to allow the Division III Championships Committee to determine appropriate conditions for conferences (single or multisport) to receive automatic qualification to the men’s volleyball championship as it deems necessary to administer the event. That could include waiving the existing requirement that a conference exist for two years before receiving AQ privileges (though conferences still would need to be granted conference membership by the Division III Membership Committee).
The proposal to establish the championship calls for it to be an eight-team bracket with competition to be held April 19-21 at one finals site for 2012.