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Division II Legislative Agenda Highlighted by Amateurism, Academic Changes

Divisions II and III have traditionally had fewer proposals up for debate than Division I. That has changed in the last couple years as the Presidential Retreat agenda has pushed other Division I legislation to the sidelines. This year, Division II has the most ambitious legislative agenda of all three divisions. DII will take up significant academic reforms with the Path to Graduation package as well as an amateurism proposal that would solve an issue which has been a thorn in Division I’s side the last few years not to mention significant recruiting and financial aid proposals.

The Path to Graduation Package consists of five proposals (2014–15, –16, –17, –18 and –19) that would modify Division II’s academic eligibility rules in the following ways:

  • Introduce a sliding scale for initial eligibility like Division I;
  • Require student-athletes to earn nine semester-hours or eight quarter-hours each term;
  • Require student-athletes to earn 18 semester-hours or 27 quarter hours each regular academic year;
  • Require student-athletes to earn a 2.000 cumulative GPA before each fall term;
  • Require student-athletes to earn 27 semester-hours or 40 quarter-hours each of their first two years (including summer), followed by 24/36 hours starting with the third year (alternate proposal would require 24/36 hours every year);
  • Establish new junior college transfer requirements including a 2.200 minimum GPA, limits on physical education courses, and English, math, and science requirements for nonqualifiers, partial qualifiers, and 4–2–4 transfers who did not graduate from a junior college.

The Path to Graduation proposals touch on most aspects of academic eligibility. The rationale for all these proposals cite the data-driven nature of the changes. For instance, the proposal to require 27 semester- or 40 quarter-hours the first two years notes that there is a big jump in graduation rates at that level, consistent with students who earn 30 semester-hours their first two years.

Division II’s amateurism rules have always been less stringent than Division I, especially for pre-enrollment amateurism. One area where the two were similar surrounded modeling and other nonathletically-related promotional activities. Currently, student-athletes are allowed to continue modeling or allowing their name or likeness to be used to promote products if the activity is not related to athletics ability or reputation, no endorsement of a commercial product takes place, and the individual started the activity prior to enrolling in college. Proposal 2014–9 would allow endorsement of commercial products and remove the requirement that student-athletes started the activity before they enrolled in college. This would have prevented cases where student-athletes were forced to choose between an athletics career and a music career.

Two proposals would make significant changes to official and unofficial visits in Division II. Proposal 2014–21 would allow prospects to take official visits to Division II institutions in the summer prior to their senior year, starting on June 15. Proposal 2014–20 would deregulate meals on official visits, removing the limit of three per day. It would also allow institutions to provide special parking and one meal on an unofficial visit, where normally no benefits aside from three complimentary admissions to a home game have been permitted.

Proposal 2014–22 would be a significant deregulation of merit aid in Division I. As in Division I, Division II allows institutions to give academic merit aid to an athlete who also receives an athletic scholarship and not count the merit aid as athletic scholarship dollars if the athlete meets one of a set of criteria: a 3.500 high school GPA, 100 sum ACT, or 1140 SAT. The proposal would remove the required GPA or test score and allow the award to be exempted if the student-athlete satisfies all criteria to receive the award and is academically eligible.

Other proposals up for a vote include:

  • 2014–1: Would require reporting of catastrophic injuries (also a DI proposal).
  • 2014–2: Would permit institutions to have contact with a signed recruit while they are competing.
  • 2014–3: Would permit institutions to publish nonathletics advertisements in high school and junior college publications.
  • 2014–4: Would simplify when tryouts are permitted.
  • 2014–5: Would clarify how the advance placement exception to initial eligibility rules applies to international students.
  • 2014–6: Would allow institutions more flexibility in providing expenses for athletes to receive noninstitutional awards.
  • 2014–7: Would allow institutions to provides expenses for a student-athlete to participate in one all-star game after exhausting their eligibility.
  • 2014–8: Would allow rugby sevens competition in women’s rugby, change calculation of dates of competition (also a DI proposal).
  • 2014–10: Would change some Division II membership requirements.
  • 2014–11: Would establish a consistent set of selection criteria across all Division II sports.
  • 2014–12: Would allow an exempt conference challenge event every year in basketball.
  • 2014–13: Would allow strength and conditioning staff to design and conduct workouts for football student-athletes during the summer, at the request of the student-athlete.
  • 2014–14: Would establish women’s triathlon as an emerging sport for women (also a DI proposal).
  • 2014–23: Would reduce the penalty for a positive test in the street drug class to 50% of a season (also a DI proposal).
  • 2014–24: Would require institutions to designate a team physician authorized to oversee student-athlete care for all teams (also a DI proposal).
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