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Publish date: Aug 12, 2011

Presidents Council moves forward with DII recruiting-contact changes

By David Pickle
NCAA.org

When the Division II membership convenes at the January Convention, it will vote on an important collection of proposals to change recruiting-contact legislation.

Meeting Thursday in Indianapolis, the Division II Presidents Council voted to sponsor legislation that would deregulate the number of permissible in-person, off-campus contacts; eliminate the distinction among various kinds of electronic media; and establish a common first contact date of June 15 before a prospect’s junior year for in-person and electronic-media contacts (including telephone calls, email and text messaging).

The proposals are a result of a Presidents Council charge to the Legislation Committee to identify and eliminate legislation that needlessly complicates administrative burden.

“I think we recognized that things change over time in terms of communication and that it’s time to review what we’re doing to see if it makes sense,” said Council chair Drew Bogner, president of Molloy College. “So in looking at those rules, we asked for a comprehensive look at legislation in terms of did it really protect student-athletes? And if it did, then we need to keep that in place. But if it didn’t, let’s look at if we can refine that so that we don’t have to bear additional compliance and enforcement issues.”

The proposals would make the following changes:

  • In-person, off-campus contacts. Current rule: No more than three contacts per prospect per academic year beginning June 15 before a prospect’s senior year in high school. Proposed rule: No restrictions on the number of contacts beginning June 15 before a prospect’s junior year in high school.
  • Telephone calls. Current rules: One call per week beginning June 15 before a prospect’s senior year in high school. Proposed rule: No limit on number or frequency of calls beginning June 15 before a prospect’s junior year in high school.
  • Email and faxes. Current rule: No limit on the number of frequency beginning Sept. 1 of a prospect’s junior year in high school. Proposed rule: No limit on number or frequency beginning June 15 before a prospect’s junior year in high school.
  • Instant messages, text messages, message boards. Current rule: No limit on number or frequency beginning the calendar day after the National Letter of Intent, other written commitment or financial deposit. Proposed rule: No limit on number or frequency beginning June 15 before a prospect’s junior year in high school.

In addition to easing rules-compliance burden, the presidents joined the Division II Management Council in believing that the changes would bring student-athlete recruitment more in line with the recruitment of students in general.

“As far as I’m concerned,” said Council vice chair Pat O’Brien, president of West Texas A&M University, we’re treating student-athletes the same as we’re treating other students at the university.”

Though no opposition to the proposals was registered at the Presidents Council meeting, the presidents did discuss whether eliminating restrictions and extending the contact period might open student-athletes up to unwanted visits, texts and emails from recruiters.

Bogner said the presidents would track that concern.

“I think we can certainly monitor whether we will inadvertently create a problem, though we’ll just have to see how that is,” he said. “But it is very difficult to monitor these things anyway. Experience would tell us that there are a lot of ways of getting around a lot of these rules if you really want to harass a student.”

There’s also sentiment that the proposed rule has a self-policing element – that Division II coaches who abuse their contact privileges likely would alienate recruits.

Division II Vice President Mike Racy told the presidents that Division II is comprehensively addressing the issue for the first time. The rules on the books reflect Division I hand-me-downs from when the NCAA restructured in 1997.

Whatever the source, Bogner said the time has arrived for Division II to stop responding to every change in communications technology.

“You are chasing your tail,” he said. “There’s always some new means of communication that will come forward, so we just have to make sure that we are on the best solid ground in terms of identifying things that adversely impact student-athletes.”

The presidents also agreed to sponsor legislation for the 2012 Convention to modify membership standards for new and existing conferences. The proposals would:

  • Require at a new member conference to contain at least 10 institutions, effective Aug. 1, 2013.
  • Require a new member conference to contain at least 10 active members to become an active conference, effective Aug. 1, 2013.
  • Provide the Management Council with the authority to place an annual limit on the number of applicant conferences that could be invited to active membership.
  • Require member conferences, effective Aug. 1, 2017, to be composed of at least eight active member institutions (waiver provision provided).
  • Require member conferences, effective Aug. 1, 2022, to be composed of at least 10 active member institutions (waiver provision provided).
  • Increase from two years to five the waiting period for a new Division II conference to become eligible for automatic qualification (two years for an active conference adding a sport), effective Aug. 1, 2013.
  • Create a three-year grace period for conferences falling no more than one institution below the minimum membership requirement during which the conference would continue to qualify for full membership privileges.
  • Require that an active Division II conference (or a conference applying for Division II membership) must have taken action to allow an institution to join the conference as a full member before that institution can be considered for active membership.

Other highlights

In other business at its Aug. 11 meeting, the Division II Presidents Council:

  • Reviewed a proposed new Division II vision statement proposed by the Planning and Finance Committee. The proposed statement would say: “Through a shared effort, Division II intercollegiate athletics seeks to provide value and significance for its members by supporting the mission of higher education and striking a balance among academic excellence, athletics competition and social growth while its colleges and universities prepare student-athletes to thrive in their lives and careers.”
  • Elected two new Presidents Council members and ratified the elections of two new Management Council members and a Management Council vice chair. Those selections will be announced next week.
  • Adopted a model strategic communications document for Division II.