ncaa-d2 flag | April 27, 2014

Council sponsors eliminating special voting

For 26 years, Division II member schools and conferences that sponsor football have been empowered to determine changes in that sport on their own.

The Division II Presidents Council, however, believes that provision does not line up with the division’s philosophy. At its April 23-24 meeting in Indianapolis, the council passed a recommendation from the Management Council to eliminate the Division II constitutional bylaw that permits special voting legislation, which allows voting on football issues to be limited only to schools and conferences that sponsor the sport.

The management council’s recommendation followed concerns that were voiced on the convention floor prior to a football-only vote on summer conditioning programs. After discussing the issue at length during its meeting earlier in April, the management council also requested that each of its members seek additional feedback from their conferences.

But the Presidents Council sponsored the proposal with no debate, advancing any discussion to the business session at the 2015 convention, where the entire Division II membership will vote on the proposal. Presidents Council chair Tom Haas, president of Grand Valley State, said previous discussions among presidents indicated that they already believed special voting on football issues no longer fit with the division’s beliefs.

“In our history we’ve avoided going down the path of having legislative actions on a sport-by-sport basis,” Haas said. “It’s not consistent with our past and current philosophy in Division II.”

The constitutional provision allowing special voting legislation on football issues (Constitution was approved at the 1988 convention, and Division II has allowed only football schools and conferences to vote on football issues since then. The voting process has evolved during the years, but its use has been popular: since 1997, the last time the voting process changed, the bylaw has been evoked 16 times for football-specific legislation. Previous votes that evoked the bylaw affected legislation on grants-in-aid limits, practice parameters, recruiting regulations and scheduling issues.

The last such vote occurred at the 2014 convention, when membership-sponsored legislation was approved to permit strength and conditioning personnel to design and conduct summer workout programs for football.

But while 64 percent of football-playing schools and conferences approved the legislation, concerns were voiced on the convention floor that the new workout programs reached beyond the sport. Many questioned why the legislation was not extended to other fall sports considering it was based on health and safety concerns.

At its post-convention meeting in January, the management council requested that NCAA staff research the history of the bylaw so it could understand how and why legislation allowing specific voting groups was initially passed. A discussion of those findings led to the management council’s recommendation to eliminate the bylaw.

Also at the Presidents Council meeting:

  • The council endorsed a white paper that outlines the division’s growth strategy. The report, crafted by the Division II Membership Committee, builds off the division’s guide for growth that was created in 2010 and will serve as a tool for future decisions regarding membership expansion. Designed to ensure the high standards of the division for years to come, the white paper focuses on the importance of selectivity when accepting new members. Read more about the white paper discussions here.
  • A proposal requiring all Division II schools to employ a full-time athletics director and a full-time compliance administrator, each with no coaching duties, will also be voted on at the 2015 Convention. The requirement, which already exists for schools joining the division, will go into effect for all current members on Aug. 1, 2018 if it is adopted by the Division II membership. Only about 10 percent of Division II schools will be impacted. Council Chair Tom Haas said the new rules better align with the division’s philosophy as it continues to grow. “In order to really do the job of head coach, for example, I think you need not be encumbered by other responsibilities that may take your eye off the ball,” he said. “It was clear this is a step in the right direction.” Read more about the proposal here.

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