Division III football preseason practice will be permitted to begin two days earlier this year due to a waiver approved this week by the Division III Presidents Council.

In the wake of the Division III Management Council’s decision to eliminate traditional two-a-day practices in football (based on emerging medical consensus published in the “Year-Round Football Practice Contact Recommendations ”), the Presidents Council approved a one-time waiver that will permit Division III schools to begin athletically related activity in the sport on the two already existing legislated administrative days that precede the first permissible practice date.

“We have been absorbing the emerging data and consensus recommendations that are being put forward,” said Jay Lemons, Presidents Council chair and president of Susquehanna. “The Presidents Council is mindful of that guidance and made the decision to create a one-time waiver to account for the implementation of the immediate end of the traditional two-a-day football practices. In light of that, we made the consideration to allow some athletically related activities on what would have been administrative days.”

Schools already may issue equipment, take team photos and attend to other administrative tasks on the day before the first permissible practice date and may begin providing expenses the evening before this administrative day.  The waiver provides institutions the opportunity, if they choose, to conduct athletically related activities in addition to the administrative tasks on those days, allowing additional practice opportunities while minimizing the financial impact on institutions. Athletics personnel should recognize that the acclimatization requirements remain intact.

The waiver applies to the 2017 football season only: The rules pertinent to preseason football will continue to be evaluated to determine what legislative changes may need to be considered at the 2018 NCAA Convention.

The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports will hold a call this week to determine what activities may be permitted during a second walk-through session held after practice (and a subsequent three-hour recovery period). The committee also will discuss the new interassociation recommendation to have one day off per week in the preseason and what activities may be conducted that are consistent with the recommendation.

Though the Presidents Council approved the recommendation and supports the changes in the interest of health and safety, several Presidents Council members expressed reservations regarding how the rule change came to pass. Members indicated they hope to be more involved as important health and safety recommendations are being formulated that could have an impact on the division’s legislation, echoing sentiment express by many throughout the Division III governance structure and membership in the wake of January’s publication of the updated football practice contact recommendations. The Presidents Council and other Division III governing bodies will continue a dialogue with NCAA Sport Science Institute staff regarding the implementation of these types of recommendations moving forward.

“We spent more time on this subject than probably any other, trying to understand how our work in governance really dovetails with emerging scientific findings around best practices,” Lemons said.

Other actions:

  • The Presidents Council approved a series of Management Council recommendations pertinent to the division’s budget. Division III members will be given a one-time credit to offset a membership dues increase slated to begin this year that 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 Presidents 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 Presidents Council also supported recommendations pertinent to changes to the division’s reserve policy, and additional spending for championships and nonchampionships initiatives.
  • Jeff Docking, president of Adrian, will serve as Presidents Council chair effective this summer. Docking replaces Lemons, who is stepping down from his post at Susquehanna.
  • The Presidents Council also approved the addition of three new members: Mary Beth Cooper, president of Springfield College; Stuart Dorsey, president of Texas Lutheran; and Robert Lindgren, president of Randolph-Macon. Their terms begin in July.


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