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By David Pickle
Division II bid adieu to its ambitious Life in the Balance package Saturday, passing three Phase II proposals while arriving at a suitable compromise on questions about last year’s winter-break legislation.
All three of the Presidents Council’s Phase II proposals passed with more than 90 percent of the vote.
Proposal No. 2011-5, which passed 280-4, established a start date of Sept. 7 or the fourth day of classes, whichever is earlier, for out-of-season or preseason activities and competition in all winter sports. Delegates also approved Proposal No. 2011-11 in wrestling to establish Oct. 10 as the start date for practice and Nov. 1 as the start date for any competition.
Proposal No. 2011-6 will amend the start date of the nonchampionship segment and out-of-season activities for spring sports to Sept. 7 or the fourth day of classes, whichever is earlier. The expectation is that the legislation will permit student-athletes in those sports to acclimate to campus, class schedules and non-athletically related commitments. The rule will not permit athletically related activities (for example, practice and weight-training, conditioning) until the fourth day of class, as distinguished from four days after the start of class. No. 2011-6 passed by a count of 278-5-1.
The other Phase II proposal, No. 2011-7, will amend Bylaw 126.96.36.199 so that winter and spring-sport coaches will have the ability to prepare for in-season competition with team activities, including practice, from the beginning of the institution’s academic year in the fall term through the day before the first permissible practice date. The same opportunity will be available for fall championship sports from the first day of classes in the winter or spring term through Feb. 15. Skill instruction will be maintained for the development of individual student-athletes after the Division II championship until the week before the institution’s final examination period. No. 2011-7, which passed 267-17-1, will not increase the amount of time that coaches and student-athletes devote to out-of-season activities. It will simply permit another type of activity during the period.
Members also defeated Proposal No. 2011-9, which would have permitted the break for winter sports approved as part of the Phase I legislation to be over any seven consecutive days between Dec. 20-30 (the current legislation prohibits athletically related activity between Dec. 20-26). However, during meetings earlier in the week, the Presidents Council agreed to charge the Legislation Committee with exploring a rolling 10-year calendar that would continue to provide a consistent break for all schools, taking into consideration years in which Dec. 20 falls on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
Commissioner J.R. Smith of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which co-sponsored the proposal, was pleased with the solution.
“That solves the issues that the RMAC had with the legislation,” Smith said. “Our biggest concern was our finals week would usually fall right before that and we tend to move our basketball games off of the weekend because those are usually graduation times so they need the facilities. So we really needed the opportunity to use Monday as a day, and in the scenario that they put together they would allow for that. We’re very supportive of what the Presidents Council did.”
Presidents Council chair Drew Bogner of Molloy reiterated that there would be no Phase III of the Life in the Balance initiative, suggesting instead a period of fine-tuning, time for analyzing the impact, in addition to continued analysis of the nonchampionship segment.
“It will be more of what we’ve done this time, which is a revisiting of some of the aspects that are out there,” he said.
“We know with the nonchampionships segment, there may be some aspects that might come back in the future. We’ve asked for a comprehensive study of that segment. The Legislation Committee determined that now was probably not the time to bring forward any new legislation, so that could still happen at some time, but I don’t anticipate that we’ll make sweeping changes in the number of contests or start dates and those kinds of things.”