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Publish date: Oct 20, 2011

Council offers feedback on legislation

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
NCAA.org

Pending direction from a presidential working group charged with streamlining the Division I Manual, the Division I Legislative Council used its fall meeting to offer perspective on broad areas such as recruiting, academics, amateurism and meals.

Dozens of legislative proposals had been submitted for the 2011-12 cycle, but the presidential retreat in August that produced four working groups charged with implementing major reforms has paused the usual legislative cycle.

The Legislative Council, which met Oct. 17-18 in Indianapolis, now expects to take initial action on legislation at its January meeting, though many proposals may be tabled to await recommendations from the working groups. 

In the meantime, the Council took advantage of the opportunity to essentially serve as a focus group for the presidential task forces. 

Council chair Carolyn Campbell-McGovern, deputy executive director of the Ivy League, said, “We provided a gauge of what the membership is thinking.”

For example, the Council is becoming more comfortable with the concept of deregulating recruiting contacts, leaning toward unlimited phone calls and electronic communication from coaches after a specific date in a prospect’s high school career. 

However, Campbell-McGovern noted continued concern about the ability of prospective student-athletes to regulate communication for themselves, and that deregulation might lead to even earlier commitments because prospects simply want the recruiting process to stop.

The Council also discussed some of the major academic issues in the cycle, including the increased standards for transfers from two-year colleges and the proposed academic year in readiness designed to allow for a remedial year without competition at two-year schools.  

Some Council members were hesitant about the proposed jump from a required 2.00 grade-point average at the two-year college to a 2.50 GPA as part of the new transfer standard, but they understood the need to raise the bar. The group also was uncomfortable with the year in readiness, with concerns about how it would be monitored and skepticism about the number of potential student-athletes who would voluntarily participate in a program that removes them from competition for a year.

Amateurism was another major topic, with the Council warming to the idea of adjusting guidelines related to receipt of expenses, prize money and involvement with agents. Adjusting regulations around meals for student-athletes has also been an ongoing topic for the group – what can an institution provide, how much, when and where are annual questions that the Council confronts. 

Members believe that deregulating meals – at least for full-scholarship student-athletes – is a concept to pursue. The logistics get more complicated when applied to equivalency team limits and those not receiving aid, especially as it concerns whether meals would count as a portion of an equivalency.

The legislative cycle will move forward, with the Council expected to vote on or table the proposals in the cycle at its meeting at the 2012 NCAA Convention in January. As has been its usual practice, the Council will vote to adopt only the proposals that have clear support at its January meeting, deferring those needing more discussion, or awaiting the recommendations from the presidential working groups. Work is likely to continue until April or even later, depending on how the proposed legislation meshes with the ongoing examination of the division as a whole.

“We anticipate that there will be more information coming out of the presidential working groups,” Campbell-McGovern said. “Some of these proposals may become redundant; others we may end up tabling.”