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Publish date: May 3, 2013

DIII presidents dive into membership survey results

By Gary Brown

With budget issues, recruiting policies and championship resource allocations likely to dot the Division III agenda in the coming years, the governing body responsible for setting strategic direction began reviewing survey results that could help plot the course in those important areas.

Meeting May 1-2 in Indianapolis, the Division III Presidents Council took an initial pass at the first division-wide membership survey conducted since 2008. With 77 percent of Division III schools responding, the survey provides a good – though perhaps not definitive – indication of where members stand on issues ranging from championships operations and sports sponsorship to the division’s legislative process and governance structure.

Council members noted that the survey results will be dissected by the appropriate membership and governance groups over the next year or more, but they used their spring meeting to acknowledge some of the important items that appear closer to consensus than others – many of which validate key Division III principles.

In particular, questions probing satisfaction with the division’s identity received high marks. That’s important given that the last survey in 2008 came at a time when members were considering subdividing the division because of rapid membership growth and rising concerns about legislative differences, among other things. The 2008 survey, though, revealed more philosophical commonalities than differences, and the resulting identity initiative and strategic-positioning platform were based on the attributes members at that time regarded as tenets of Division III. The 2013 survey reinforced the division’s collective belief in those characteristics.

For example, approximately 90 percent of the 2013 survey respondents agreed with the following:

Also, almost 60 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the current legislative standards are appropriate. While that may not be a high percentage by some measures, the Presidents Council noted that it was much more uniform than five years ago when disagreement over whether legislative standards were restrictive enough (or too restrictive) threatened to divide the division.

Other notable and relatively agreed-upon principles in the 2013 survey include:

A few of the results presidents found initially surprising. One showed a majority of respondents at least somewhat agreeing that participation in NCAA championships is the ultimate measure of success for their institutions. Council members noted while championships participation is an important and beneficial component of Division III membership, they were struck by how many survey respondents said it was the ultimate measure of success.

The Presidents Council noted that a number of survey results clearly indicate more review is necessary. Among them:

Presidents Council members also noted how institutions chose to complete the survey. Thirty-nine percent of responding institutions indicated their president or chancellor contributed to the completion of the survey, while 32 percent of respondents indicated their senior administrator with athletics oversight did. At the same time, athletics directors contributed to 92 percent of the surveys submitted.

Overall, Council members are pleased with the depth of the survey questions and the thoughtfulness members devoted to answering them. Presidents Council chair Jack Ohle of Gustavus Adolphus said if nothing else, the results will shape the conversation over the next several months.

“We’re coming to a point when we need to decide how to allocate our budget to align with the strategic direction of the division,” Ohle said. “While the survey results aren’t the ultimate indicator of where we need to go, the feedback and input they will generate from membership and governance groups will most certainly be informative as we move the division forward.”

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