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By Gary Brown
Division III Presidents Council members at their meeting on Thursday in Indianapolis made it clear that they are not interested in devoting Division III resources to support drug-testing models other than the championships testing program already in place.
The declaration clarifies months of debate on what to do in light of a two-year pilot study to determine whether dedicating resources to an optional year-round drug-testing program is either necessary or desirable for the only division that currently does not conduct NCAA year-round testing.
Prior discussions had contemplated both an educational approach and support of optional testing as alternatives, but Presidents Council members said they no longer wish to pursue either a division-wide testing program or ways to facilitate testing at the local level. The Presidents and Chancellors Advisory Group echoed that sentiment at its meeting on Wednesday, as well.
“The decision not to pursue year-round testing models shouldn’t be interpreted as presidents not being concerned about drug use on our campuses,” said Presidents Council chair Jim Bultman of Hope College. “On the contrary, we believe that, given the results from the pilot, an educational approach is the more prudent use of the division’s resources in this area.”
Results from the pilot indicated that the use of performance-enhancing drugs within the division is not significant enough to warrant a year-round program. Presidents also have said emphatically that alcohol-abuse is the greater concern on their campuses, and that any NCAA educational efforts should be structured accordingly.
With that in mind, the division will pursue a drug- and alcohol-education effort that:
The NCAA already has contacted NASPA (an association of student affairs professionals) about collaborating to create and maintain an education resource that Division III members and student affairs personnel can use.
The Division III Strategic Planning and Finance Committee had previously reviewed a number of options that would include an optional testing component, including a matching-grant or “mini-grant” program as a way to support institutions that may not have funds to dedicate to drug testing. Even though those types of programs had merit, most Division III stakeholders have preferred an educational approach from the start.
Division III members will hear more about the educational models at the January Convention.
The presidents also agreed to sponsor legislation for the 2012 Convention to modify the Division III Philosophy Statement to align more explicitly with the division’s core principles.
In general, the revisions:
The modifications essentially clean up issues left over from discussions that began in 2006 on how best to manage membership growth in the division. While Division III rejected the idea of a new NCAA division or subdividing Division III, members did agree to a series of “white papers” published in 2008 that fortify the division’s attributes and unify the membership under one identity umbrella.
Among the recommendations in the white papers was to add to or revise language in the philosophy statement to more strongly reflect Division III principles. Read the draft proposal here.
Council members also heard about research on student experiences in college from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program through the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. The surveys are similar to the NCAA’s GOALS study on student-athlete experiences but contain additional data relevant to Division III.
The CIRP studies on student experiences in college have been conducted for more than 40 years, but the most recent version reflects collaboration with the NCAA research staff to query how athletics participation affects those experiences.
Overall, the studies strongly reinforce the positive experience of Division III student-athletes. Many of the results also relate to the attributes identified in the Division III strategic-positioning platform. The findings indicate that Division III student-athletes:
The CIRP study will be presented in more detail to Division III members at the NCAA Convention in January.
In other action at the Division III Presidents Council’s August 11 meeting, members: