The Division III Management Council has voted to eliminate traditional two-a-day practices in football, effective immediately, citing the most up-to-date consensus from leading medical groups and football coaching organizations.

The legislative change aligns with the year-round football practice contact recommendations released earlier this year that have been endorsed by 16 medical groups and five football organizations. The recommendations were crafted based on emerging data from the NCAA-Department of Defense CARE Consortium study and other data being collected on campuses nationwide that suggest allowing adequate recovery time after contact practices or competitions is essential to mitigating the impact of head injuries.

While a second contact practice is no longer permitted on the same day, teams may conduct a walk-through session after a three-hour recovery period. The change mirrors legislation under review in Divisions I and II. Though the rule is effective immediately, the Division III Presidents Council will have an opportunity to review and discuss the change, should the group consider it necessary, when it convenes later this month.

“It is a difficult decision to make when tradition and coaching experiences call for us to have multiple practice sessions in any one given day, but our primary mission of providing for the safety and security for all scholar-athletes must be put at the forefront,” said Brit Katz, Management Council chair and vice president of student-life and dean of students at Millsaps. “Data suggests that a disproportionate number of injuries occur during the preseason and practice sessions, so we should then consider other means of providing skill development and team development absent those types of contact practices that lead to injury.”

To account for the practice time lost due to the elimination of two-a-day practices, the Management Council also recommended a one-time blanket waiver that would remove the prohibition on athletically related activity during the two days before the first permissible practice date for football in 2017. The Presidents Council will act on the recommendation later this month.

The waiver does not permit schools to provide expenses to student-athletes earlier than is permitted already, citing the financial burden such an extension would place on some Division III colleges and universities. Schools, though, already are permitted to provide expenses on those two days, so the waiver offers additional practice opportunities while minimizing the financial impact on institutions. The waiver does not require schools to engage in athletically related activity on those two days.

Though the waiver applies only to 2017, the Management Council, along with several other Division III governing bodies, will evaluate the rules pertinent to preseason football practice considering the new consensus recommendations and will determine what legislative changes may need to be considered at the 2018 NCAA Convention.

“We must all work together deliberately and thoughtfully to create skill development in ways that do not encourage injury and compromise the health of our athletes,” Katz said.

Other actions:

  • The Management Council endorsed a proposal from the Division III Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement that would eliminate the legislated penalty for sports wagering via the internet, a parlay card or bookmaker for student-athletes. If adopted by Division III members at the 2018 Convention, the change would permit the committee to conduct a case-by-case evaluation of such sports wagering violations and would provide student-athletes the opportunity to appeal the committee’s decision, which is consistent with all other reinstatement requests.

    This proposal would not eliminate the prohibition on sports wagering. It focuses on the penalties resulting from a violation of the sports wagering legislation. Currently, student-athletes found to have violated these sports wagering rules automatically lose a year of eligibility and a season of competition and are not provided a chance to appeal. The Division III Presidents Council will have an opportunity to review the proposal when it convenes later this month.

    “One size does not fit all for any particular sanction,” Katz said. “One must look at each case on an individualized basis and the circumstances surrounding what led the student to a potential violation of any policy or procedure. Then, based on a careful review, one individualizes sanctions.”

  • The Management Council endorsed a recommendation from the Division III Interpretations and Legislation Committee that the division recognize academic misconduct and impermissible academic assistance violations separately from rules pertaining to extra benefits or unethical conduct. The change would mirror one recently adopted by both Divisions I and II and will be subject to a membership vote at the 2018 Convention.
  • Though a proposal that would have permitted graduate students with remaining athletics eligibility to compete at the Division III school of their choice was defeated at the 2017 Convention, some members have expressed a continued desire to refine current legislation. The Management Council, in hopes of providing more flexibility for graduate students in Division III, has requested that the Subcommittee for Legislative Relief formulate a 2018 Convention legislative proposal to amend current waiver criteria with the intent of permitting more Division III student-athletes to pursue a graduate degree and compete at the Division III institution of their choice, while still limiting transfers from Divisions I and II.The Management Council will weigh the subcommittee’s proposed change later this year. Currently, student-athletes can compete as graduate students only at the college or university where they received their undergraduate degree, unless they receive a waiver. To be eligible for the waiver, student-athletes must have completed their degree in fewer than four years with no breaks in enrollment and graduated with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • The Management Council approved a series of recommendations from the Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee. Notably, the Management Council endorsed the committee’s recommendation that Division III members be given a credit to offset a dues increase slated to begin this year. The increase was adopted at the 2016 Convention. Thanks to an unanticipated one-time gain from the NCAA’s investment portfolio and a change in championship team travel budget forecasts, the Management Council felt it was appropriate to credit the amount of the dues increase for at least a year. The unexpected revenue more than offsets the $519,000 of income — $1,100 extra for institutions, $550 more for conferences — the membership dues increase would have generated. Despite the provision of the one-year credit, the dues increase remains in place and will be evaluated again next year.The Management Council also supported the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee’s recommended change to the division’s reserve policy, and additional spending for championships and nonchampionships initiatives.