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Publish date: Feb 7, 2011

DIII championships panel to begin study of squad, travel and bench limits

By Gary Brown

A resolution adopted last month at the NCAA Convention to study the appropriate squad, travel and bench limits for Division III championship competition will begin taking shape this Wednesday and Thursday when the Division III Championships Committee meets in Indianapolis.

The Championships Committee will begin sifting through information that will lead members to recommend whether current limits should be adjusted. Committee members will look at average squad sizes in championships competition over the last five years to help determine whether current limits are appropriate.

Resolution takes shape

What does the resolution do?

It prompts a study of the appropriate squad, travel and bench limits for championship competition and identifies a July 1 deadline by which the study and any resultant policy changes must be complete. The resolution itself does not change current legislation or policy.

What is the difference between the squad size, travel size and bench size?

The squad size is the number of student-athletes eligible to compete in the championship contest, participate in pregame warm-ups and remain in uniform in the bench area. The travel size is the number of individuals for which the institution will receive reimbursement for travel to the championship. The bench size is the number of individuals permitted in the bench area during the championship contest. Under the current rule, the student-athletes in competitive uniform in the bench area must not exceed the squad limit. The study examines the appropriateness of all of these limits.

The study is the result of heightened membership interest in accommodating all student-athletes who contribute to team success throughout the year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some student-athletes who have helped the team reach the championship are left to watch the actual contest from the stands because NCAA limits preclude them from being in the bench area.

Two membership-sponsored proposals in last year’s legislative cycle, in fact, called for institutional discretion in determining the number of student-athletes that would be allowed to dress, participate in warm-ups and be in the bench area during NCAA championship competition.

Rather than open up such access and pose what could be a number of logistical, equity and budget concerns, the Championships Committee in September asked the Management Council to recommend to the Presidents Council the resolution to determine which sports, if any, merit an increase in the number of student-athletes allowed in the bench area.

The membership agreed, overwhelmingly approving the resolution during the Jan. 15 business session and defeating the proposal that would have allowed institutional discretion in sports other than football (the sponsors withdrew the proposal that addressed all sports).

The resolution requires expediency. The study and any resultant policy changes must be complete by July 1 and could be implemented as soon as the fall 2011 championship season.

In previous discussions, the Championships Committee noted that current rules already provide institutions a range of flexibility to bring additional student-athletes. In men’s and women’s basketball, for example, 23 individuals are allowed in the bench area – eight more than the squad size (game participants) and three more than the travel party (for which the NCAA reimburses expenses). In men’s and women’s lacrosse, 38 individuals are allowed in the bench area, 10 over the 28 on the squad and five over the 33 in the travel party.

The Men’s Lacrosse Committee, though, already has let the Championships Committee know that it would like to increase the number allowed in the bench area to 48, similar to Division II (48) and Division I (52). That group argues that many men’s lacrosse rosters exceed 33 and that those student-athletes not allowed in the bench area but who go to the event have to purchase tickets (often at the institution’s expense).

While the feedback from various sport committees will help guide discussion during the Championships Committee’s meeting Wednesday and Thursday, sport committees will be asked for more input once the Championships Committee frames the study.

The Championships Committee is targeting its next meeting in June for developing more concrete recommendations in order to meet the July 1 deadline. That deadline was established in part to give the membership time to propose legislative alternatives for the 2012 Convention if people are not satisfied with the Championships Committee recommendations.

Whatever adjustments that are recommended are not expected to affect the existing championships budget since changes would be absorbed within current allocations. The staff will forward an estimate to the Championships Committee of the cost per participant under the current parameters to assist in the review.

Current squad-size, travel-party and bench-area limits


Squad Size

Travel Party

Bench Size





M&W Basketball




Field Hockey








M&W Ice Hockey




M&W Lacrosse




M&W Soccer








Women's Volleyball