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Publish date: Apr 13, 2012


Oneonta State inducted 24 student-athletes into the National Student Athlete Society of Chi Alpha Sigma as part of its DIII Week activities.

Inaugural DIII Week has lasting impact

By Jack Copeland
NCAA.org

Schools and conferences are telling Division III’s story this week, whether it’s over hot dogs shared with faculty members at McDaniel, spending a day with Special Olympians at Hardin-Simmons, honoring student-athletes’ academic achievements in a new tradition at Denison, or collaborating on an array of activities at Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools.

It’s all a product of the inaugural celebration of Division III Week, which continues through April 15.

Division III is encouraging its membership to call attention this week to the academic, athletics and extracurricular achievements of student-athletes. The celebration is an opportunity for schools and conferences to publicly demonstrate the ways in which they provide a well-rounded collegiate experience for approximately 180,000 student-athletes competing in the NCAA’s largest membership division.

What they’re saying about DIII Week

Mark Putnam, president, Central College (Iowa)

“We join hundreds of other institutions in celebrating Division III as a place where students truly can follow their passions, participating in nationally competitive athletics programs without sacrificing opportunities to immerse themselves in rigorous academic pursuits, participate in transformative study abroad experiences or pursue any number of other co-curricular activities that offer potential for growth and development.”

Nan Carney-DeBord, director of athletics, physical education and recreation, Denison

“This week is all about awareness, for not only Denison, but for all of the institutions that compete at the NCAA Division III level. The NCAA has asked us to illustrate the three focal points of Division III’s identity: academics, athletics and extra-curricular engagement. Our student-athletes demonstrate these points each and every day, so we are more than happy to shine a light on their amazing achievements.”

Donna Carroll, president, Dominican (Illinois)

“As an institution, Dominican’s four pillars of Community, Prayer, Service and Study line up perfectly with the Division III philosophy. We are extremely proud of the successes our student-athletes have in the classroom and as members of the greater community as well as on the field.  At times our successes can be taken for granted, but when you really think about the role our 189 student-athletes play on Dominican’s campus, it is really impressive. Division III is definitely the right fit for Dominican.”

Gregg Kaye, commissioner, Commonwealth Coast Conference

“So many great feats are accomplished on a daily basis by our member institutions’ SAAC and student-athletes. It’s great to be able to promote what’s done on campuses and in communities a little more. Division III Week allows us to show the world how proud we are to be Division III institutions.”

Mike Jones, director of athletics, Howard Payne

“What a great way for the NCAA to honor and recognize Division III student-athletes and institutions. To me, Division III athletics is college athletics at its purest and finest.  Our student-athletes are students first, seeking a degree, and athletes second, playing for the love of the game. As an athletics department and university, we are very proud of their accomplishments on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.”

Bob Corradi, director of athletics, Massachusetts Maritime

“Being a Buccaneer is truly an embodiment of what Division III athletics stands for. It revolves around dedication to teammates, discovering oneself in competition and in study, and developing life skills and friendships that will serve our student-athletes well after they graduate. It is a great honor for Massachusetts Maritime to be a part of what will become a new and exciting tradition across the country.”

Leigh Ann Swartz, women’s volleyball coach and SAAC co-advisor, Mount Union

“DIII Week provides us with an excellent way to celebrate what Mount Union student-athletes achieve every day. The SAAC does an outstanding job of fostering school spirit on campus, doing various service projects and highlighting the achievements of our student-athletes.”

Nikki Fennern, director of athletics, Saint Mary’s (Minnesota)

“I am grateful that the NCAA has initiated Division III Week. Division III student-athletes and our student-athletes at Saint Mary’s embody the Discover, Develop, Dedicate identity of Division III and are truly deserving of recognition. Our student-athletes are leaders in the classroom, in the community and on the field of competition. I appreciate the dedication of our student-athletes to academics and athletics, as well as their commitment and contributions to our community and beyond.”

Kraig Smith, wrestling student-athlete and SAAC president, Thiel

“I’m excited to be a part of Division III Week and think it’s going to give our student-athletes a good opportunity to involve themselves in numerous community activities. The SAAC is looking forward to the events we have planned and showing people what being a Division III student-athlete is all about.

Bill Dukett, director of athletics, Washington and Jefferson

“We would like to use this week to highlight the great things our student-athletes are doing on and off the campus. The numbers show that Division III student-athletes are a large group who often don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Although our own accomplishments may not appear on ESPN SportsCenter every night, we are proud of W&J’s teams and we will use this week as well as our new academic recognition day in May to spotlight these true student-athletes.”

Ian Wilson, ice hockey student-athlete and student-athlete advisory board president, Westfield State

“We’ve been planning and looking forward to this week for quite some time. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase our athletes and promote NCAA values such as community service and leadership.”

Terry Rupert, vice president for athletics administration, Wilmington (Ohio)

“Living in the Division III environment offers a unique look at some very talented young adults. We are pleased to take this week to celebrate the many accomplishments they have reached at Wilmington College. They deserve our support. They deserve our respect.”

It also is continuing to urge new fans for the Division III Facebook site, by donating $1 to Special Olympics for each new fan at the page through Sunday, April 15. The page has attracted more than 1,000 new fans since Division III Week kicked off Monday, thanks in large part to publicity at schools and conferences. Division III could donate up to $5,000 to Special Olympics if the number of new Facebook page fans reaches 11,470.

So far, about 150 Division III schools and half of its conferences have scheduled events or publicized activities in conjunction with the celebration.

Student-athletes continue to be a driving force behind many of the activities, via institutional/conference student-athlete advisory committees (SAACs), but sports information directors also are significant contributors, with several writing profiles of student-athletes. Among examples are:

  • Monmouth student-athlete Amanda Streeter enjoys a proportioned experience.
  • Forty percent of Randolph’s student tutors are student-athletes, including basketball player Colton Hunt.
  • Amy Brakebill of St. Mary’s (Maryland) gives a first-person account of the importance of being on the soccer team
  • Loras student-body president Dan McDermott developed a new passion for running as a cross country and track student-athlete.
  • Baseball player Jimmy Belfont says attending Macalester has taught him to see the positive side of every outcome – there is always another opportunity to succeed.
  • More than 20 percent of student-athletes at Maine-Presque Isle participate in two sports.
  • When Abby Goss enrolled at Puget Sound to pursue a science degree and play soccer, she didn’t know she also would study in Ireland and South America, become a lab assistant, and actively participate in campus groups and activities.
  • Oneonta State produced a publication asking newly inducted members of Chi Alpha Sigma, the national student-athlete honor society, “What does being a Division III student-athlete mean to you?”
  • Muhlenberg’s “MuhlBox” sports information blog has featured posts during Division III Week written by a faculty member and a coach, as well as one featuring student-athlete perspectives.

At some schools, notably Minnesota-Morris, student-athletes wrote profiles of teammates or coaches.

Pacific (Oregon) took the opportunity to feature research by Boxer player Brittney Anderson, who investigated the impact of a challenging academic program on the student-athlete experience.

Division III schools and conferences are also telling the story through videos – in some cases, customizing Division III-produced videos recently made available for membership use. The Middle Atlantic and City University of New York Athletic Conferences, and Bridgewater, Thiel and Wisconsin-Stevens Point have developed Division III Week-related videos.

Jack Copeland is a consultant to the Division III identity initiative. Questions about Division III Week or any other identity initiative programs may be directed to Copeland at jcopeland@ncaa.org