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