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By Gary Brown
The Division III Management Council at its October 18-19 meeting recommended that the Presidents Council sponsor a resolution at the 2011 Convention to examine the number of student-athletes in the bench area at Division III championships and to make adjustments if necessary.
The resolution suggests a comprehensive review to identify alternative limits, based on additional research, by July 2011.
The Council’s action is intended to address two legislative proposals for this year’s Convention from the Empire 8 and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association that call for institutional discretion in determining and funding the number of additional student-athletes in the bench area at championships.
One (Proposal No. 2011-2-13) would allow institutions in sports other than football to determine how many student-athletes from their current active rosters they desire to dress, participate in warm-ups and be in the bench area. That proposal also garnered co-sponsorship from the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.
The other (No. 2011-2-12) from the Empire 8 and MIAA includes football but limits the number of student-athletes in the bench area in that sport to 100.
The Management Council voted to oppose both, opting instead for the resolution developed by the Division III Championships Committee, which promises to examine sport-specific logistical concerns, gender-equity considerations, and average squad sizes at championships compared with those among all sponsoring institutions to determine which sports, if any, merit an increase in who is allowed in the bench area.
Policy recommendations emerging from that study could be implemented directly by the governance structure or forwarded to the membership and governance structure at the 2012 Convention.
“Rather than allow for what essentially could be unlimited bench sizes at the discretion of participating institutions, the Council believes that a more focused review is necessary to establish workable limits,” said Management Council chair Lynn Oberbillig.
Council members believe the membership-sponsored proposals could apply “undue pressure” on institutions to permit additional student-athletes to travel, with significant expense, at a time when many institutions are facing budget challenges. Consequently, teams that have to fly to a championships site, for instance, are not likely to have the same bench size as the home team or those institutions within driving distance.
Logistics and facility constraints also raise concerns. For example, most baseball and softball dugouts cannot accommodate a significant increase to the current limits.
Council members believe a data-based review is a reasonable approach to address whether increases are warranted in some sports. Those changes could come with increases in the travel party at the division’s expense since the NCAA reimburses expenses for the travel party.
Other ancillary benefits are that the expanded number of student-athletes would be included in other aspects of the championship experience, such as the pre-event banquet, distribution of awards and inclusion in the game program.
The resolution, which still must be supported by the Presidents Council, likely would be considered before the two membership-sponsored proposals at the Convention. If approved in San Antonio, it would not render the other two proposals moot. Delegates would still vote on those proposals as submitted.
The Management Council also acted on a proposal regulating event promotions and marketing.
Council members recommended that the Presidents Council withdraw a proposal they previously supported to allow relationships with a professional sports organization or team to market and promote (but not sponsor) NCAA championship events.
The proposal was intended to focus solely on marketing and promotional activities, but more information has emerged about other financial arrangements that are typically associated with various contracts used in the overall championships process. That has prompted a broader examination of the overall championships process before modifying any legislation since the issue extends beyond just marketing and promotional considerations.
Withdrawing the proposal in question (No. 2011-2-6) prompted the Management Council to recommend that the Presidents Council extend a waiver for combined championships (more than one division) to this year’s events while the review occurs. The waiver would allow the combined men’s lacrosse championships, for example, to use existing promotional efforts (such as mailings to season-ticket holders) and allow divisional championships to function without concern that elements may be contrary to existing legislation if a professional sports entity is involved.
In other action at the October 18-19 Division III Management Council meeting, members: