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January 14, 2004

Not All D3 Changes Voted At Convention


At the NCAA convention in Nashville, D3 reps voted to restrict the number of games and practices. But the delegates backed away from some changes that had been proposed. The new rules represent a major shift in policy, and the division’s leaders claim that the proposals will enable the division to stay together.

Among the rules approved was a measure to eliminate "redshirting." Under the new rule, students must use up their eligibility in four years, except in hardship cases.

The delegates also voted to reduce the length of seasons of competition, and to limit practices and competition in "nonchampionship" seasons, such as fall for baseball and spring for soccer.

Members defeated, however, by a 318-to-93 vote, a proposal to reduce by 10% the maximum number of games permitted.

They also decided to allow eight institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, to continue awarding athletic scholarships in the Division I sports they offer but to prohibit other institutions from doing so.

Despite concerns that those colleges were gaining an unfair advantage by offering athletics scholarships, the delegates approved the exception by a vote of 304 to 89, granting the eight institutions permission to continue a practice they have engaged in for decades.

Michael Walsh, Washington and Lee AD, had a larger concern about the NCAA headquarters staff’s advocacy of the reform proposals. Myles Brand endorsed them in his State of the Association speech, and had written letters to Division III presidents in favor of them.

"Did you see that story in USA Today talking about Division I-A football getting a 12th guaranteed game?" Walsh asked. "And here in Division III, we need to reform ourselves and go down to only nine games?" The NCAA was ignoring problems in Division I, such as the recent relaxation of academic standards for incoming athletes, and instead forcing Division III to change its path, he said.

"I’m a skeptic of the word ’reform,’" Walsh said. "To think reform needs to come in Division III ignores so much of what’s going on elsewhere."  (Chronicle for Higher Education  1-13-04)