•Institutions decide on most reasonable alignment without ‘gerrymandering’ to receive extra AQ.
•Could generate membership instability
•Could minimize philosophical value of conference alignment.
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By Gary Brown
A concept that would require an institution to be “core” in only one conference and preclude the formation of so-called “umbrella” conferences in the future is being endorsed by the Division III Management Council. If the idea gains momentum after further review, the matter could emerge as a legislative proposal for the 2012 Convention and be effective beginning in September 2013.
Meeting Monday and Tuesday, the Council supported changing the current definition of “core” to preclude the formation of an overarching “umbrella” conference with two sub-conferences in which schools are core in both the umbrella conference and the sub-conference. In such arrangements, the umbrella conference is eligible to gain two automatic-qualification spots.
One such conference – the Middle Atlantic Conference (with sub-conferences Commonwealth and Freedom) – has been in place for the last decade, and the proposal being considered would not affect that arrangement. However, as more schools and conferences inquire about forming similar umbrella leagues – and as Division III implements its new strategic-positioning platform – some Division III governance groups are wondering whether the umbrella arrangement best serves the division in light of the current expectations of conference membership.
Under the proposal being considered, a conference would have to have four core members and at least seven total members (either core or affiliate) sponsoring a sport to gain automatic qualification to the championship in that sport. But an institution could be a core member in only one conference.
In a related matter, the Council approved noncontroversial legislation that increases the composition requirement for conferences to attain active membership from six institutions to seven (effective September 1, 2012).
In other action at the Management Council’s July 19-20 meeting, members:
Division III is nearing a crossroads in its follow-up to a two-year drug-education and testing pilot, including decisions on how or even if a national testing program fits with the Division III philosophy and whether the benefits gained from testing merit the potentially high expense of a year-round program.
Division III currently conducts drug testing only at its championships; however, individual schools may conduct testing throughout the year at their own expense.
But the Presidents Council in 2007 authorized a two-year pilot program that allocated resources for 100 participating member schools to provide drug education or a combination of education and drug testing to their student-athletes.
Just as the findings from the pilot reveal no clear consensus among student-athletes about whether drug testing should be conducted either by their school or by the NCAA, athletics administrators are starting to have the same debate about how best to ensure competitive equity and enhance the health and well-being of their student-athletes.
At the Division III Management Council meeting Monday and Tuesday, members talked at length about four key questions:
The Presidents Council and its Presidents and Chancellors Advisory Group will discuss the matter further during their August 11-12 meetings. Full membership discussion of options, including any recommended alternatives from the governance structure, is scheduled to occur at the 2011 Convention. A final membership vote, if necessary, would occur at the 2012 Convention.