Depending on who you ask, August 15ths prior to 2011 were either the good ol’ days or the bad ol’ days. On August 15th, the Division I Publication of Proposed Legislation is due. Prior to 2011 and the Presidential Retreat, it was hundreds of pages long and included 80–100 different proposals that ranged from important reforms to one conference’s pet project. After the Presidential Retreat, the POPL (pronounced pop-el) slimmed down, if the working groups met the deadline at all.
The 2014 POPL takes the prize for slimness though. It includes just six proposals and none affecting Bylaws 11 (personnel), 13 (recruiting), 14 (academic eligibility), 15 (financial aid), 16 (awards and benefits) or 17 (playing and practice seasons). There is just one amateurism proposal and it is relatively uncontroversial. The reason for this is governance reform. The power conferences will get their first shot at autonomous rule making in January while Division I’s shared governance is on hold for yet another year. So it will likely be these six proposals voted on in January, and they will likely be voted on by the existing Division I Legislative Council before the new Council takes over next year.
2014–3: Championships Access and Appointment of Cabinets
Intent: “To specify that members are guaranteed access to national championships (including the play-in structure in certain championships, sizes of championship fields and the number and ratio of automatic qualifying conferences) at least at the level provided as of August 1, 2014; further, to eliminate legislation that related to the appointment of cabinets under the previous governance structure.”
Analysis: As the intent states, this is enabling legislation to go with the proposal for the new governance structure, Proposal 2014–2. Proposal 2014–3 guarantees championship access at current levels and removes the cabinet appointment language. Removing that language enables the competency-based cabinet and committee appointments to the new Council substructure under the new governance system.
2014–5: Amateurism – Incentive Programs for International Athletes
Intent: “To specify that an international prospective student-athlete or international student-athlete may accept funds from his or her country’s national Olympic governing body (equivalent to the U.S. Olympic Committee) based on place finish in one event per year that is designated as the highest level of international competition for the year by the governing body.”
Analysis: This simply extends the exception for payments under the USOC’s Operation Gold Grant to similar programs operated by other countries. It is the latest in a series of proposals designed to provide the same amateurism exceptions for both American and international athletes.
2014–6: Women’s Sand Volleyball Championship
Intent: “In sand volleyball, to establish a National Collegiate Championship and to establish a six person sand volleyball committee.”
Analysis: Like it says on the tin, this would establish an NCAA sand volleyball national championship. It would be a National Collegiate Championship, meaning one NCAA champion would be crowned from all NCAA members competing in sand volleyball rather than one from each division. Sand volleyball will also be removed from the emerging sports for women list since it will have achieved its goal of getting enough sponsorship to become a championship sport.
2014–7: Duration of Ineligibility – Banned Drug Classes Other Than Street Drugs
Intent: “To specify that the penalty for a student-athlete who tests positive for use of a banned substance other than a ”street drug“ shall include withholding from consecutive regular-season contests or dates of competition equivalent to the maximum number of contests or dates of competition permitted per Bylaw 17.”
Analysis: Last year the NCAA reduced the penalty for street drugs (primarily marijuana) from the same one-year penalty as the other drug classes to 50% of a season. This would bring the other classes, all considered performance-enhancing, into a similar way of counting, making the penalty 100% of the maximum number of games in a season. In most cases, the length of the suspension should be about the same, although switching from 365 days to 100% of a season may cause some suspensions to be more or less than they would have been previously.
2014–8: Duties of the NCAA Sport Science Institute
Intent: “To specify that the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports will work in conjunction with the NCAA Sport Science Institute to fulfill its duties.”
Analysis: This simply establishes in the Division I Bylaws a closer relationship between CSMAS and the Sport Science Institute, which is the NCAA’s research wing for health and safety issues.
2014–9: Banning of Gene Doping
Intent: “To specify that the practice of gene doping is prohibited and any evidence confirming use will be cause for action consistent with that taken for a positive drug test.”
Analysis: In addition to the NCAA’s banned drug classes, some other drugs or procedures are also prohibited including blood doping, improper use of local anesthetics and and beta–2 agonists, and manipulation of urine samples. This proposal would add gene doping to the list which it defines as:
The non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic element or of the modulation of gene expression, to improve athletic performance.
The proposal says that “any evidence” confirming use of gene doping is cause for actions consistent with a positive drug test, i.e. a one-year suspension. The rationale though indicates this is less about the NCAA’s own fight against performance-enhancing drugs and techniques and more about other organizations:
This proposal allows the NCAA to honor suspensions for gene doping issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Pursuant to current legislation, a student-athlete under a drug testing suspension from a national or international sports governing body that has adopted the WADA code shall not participate in NCAA intercollegiate competition for the duration of the suspension. Such suspensions are only applicable to drugs and procedures that are also banned by the NCAA.
Without this proposal, an athlete who was banned for gene doping by another governing body would still be eligible to compete in NCAA athletics.