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Publish date: May 3, 2013

Presidents endorse Academic Task Force report

By David Pickle

Division II moved one key step closer to major changes in its academic standards Thursday when the Presidents Council voted to endorse the recommendations of the Academic Task Force.

Those recommendations, which reflect input acquired at the NCAA Convention in January, now will be drafted in legislative form for the task force to review in June. The Presidents Council will look at the legislative drafts in August and determine official sponsorship as well. Any legislation that is sponsored will be considered at the January 2014 Convention in San Diego.

Former University of Indianapolis President Beverley Pitts, who has consulted with the task force, said the group’s work represents a landmark accomplishment.

“This is the first time in my involvement with Division II that data have been used so well to predict outcomes,” she said.

The proposed regulations governing initial eligibility, progress-toward-degree and two-year college transfers are designed to work in a coordinated manner to achieve a “path to graduation,” which is the name of the initiative. The recommendations, which will be described in detail on NCAA.org the week of May 13, are based on known outcomes gathered through Division II’s Academic Performance Census.

Highlights include:

The Council, which has seen several iterations of the task force’s work, had few questions this time around. Instead, the attention turned toward communication of the proposed standard and efforts to make sure that every significant Division II constituent group has been informed. Among others, those will include faculty athletics representatives, academic advisors, coaches associations, student-athletes, athletics directors and commissioners. Continued outreach with the two-year college community also is anticipated.

The report of the Academic Task Force was one of two important follow-ups to the Division II Chancellors and Presidents Summit from this year’s Convention. The other related to diversity and inclusion.

The Council voted to refer to the Planning and Finance Committee a recommendation to develop a grant initiative that would enable Division II athletics programs to tap into a “search firm roundtable” as they seek to develop more racially diverse candidate pools. The Council also supported development of a model program for diversity at Division II institutions (similar to model programs in place for athletics departments, conference offices and communications), along with a recognition program for institutions excelling with the management of diversity. The group also expressed interest in a possible division-wide pledge to support diversity, similar to one currently in place for game environment.

Other business

At the recommendation of the Management Council, the Presidents Council agreed to sponsor several important pieces of legislation for the 2014 Convention.

First, the Council will sponsor a proposal from the Championships Committee to create uniform selection criteria for all Division II team sports. The Championships Committee expects the changes, if approved, to allow for its priorities to be communicated to the membership in the development of schedules and for institutions to compete more effectively for postseason berths.

The selection criteria are (in no particular order):

The legislation also will provide sports-specific criteria for governing sports committee to select.

The second major legislative initiative is a package of three sport-safety recommendations from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. The first would require Division II institutions, as a condition of membership, to report data from catastrophic deaths and injuries. The second would require certification of strength and conditioning coaches, and the third would call for institutions to designate a team physician(s) in all of their sports.

Finally, the Council will sponsor legislation that would reduce the penalty for a positive test for any street drug to 50 percent of the season of competition in all sports. The proposed legislation is based on a recommendation from the competitive-safeguards committee, which noted that street drugs (marijuana is by far the most common positive test) have no performance-enhancing effect. Also, with a lesser sanction, institutions would be better able to intervene and correct the behavior.

Divisions I and III also are considering the sports-safety and drug-penalty proposals.

In other business at its May 2 meeting in Indianapolis, the Division II Presidents Council:

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