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Spring Football Highlights D3 Proposals

Division III has the most ambitious legislative agenda of the three divisions at the current moment. Like Division II, most of the proposals are focused on playing and practice season rules. But while D2 is mostly tweaking, D3 has two major changes. One would cut the number of contests in most Division III sports while another would bring spring football practice to D3.

No. 1–1: Full-Time Enrollment Exception – Cooperative Educational Work Experience

Intent: “To allow student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics while participating in cooperative educational work experiences regardless of whether such educational experiences are a required part of the academic programs.”

Analysis: Currently an athlete in Division III can participate while enrolled less than full-time in classes if they are enrolled in a co-op work program that the institution considers full-time only if the work experience is required for the degree program. This proposal would allow athletes to compete while enrolled in any co-op work program that the institution considers full-time enrollment, regardless of whether it is required.

No. 1–2: Reduction of Maximum Number of Contests

Intent: “To decrease traditional segment contest and dates of competition limits in selected sports by up to 10 percent.

Analysis: I’ve covered this proposal in more detail earlier, but some of the reductions are significant, more than 10%.

No. 1–3: Date of First Basketball Contest

Intent: “To permit an institution to conduct its first date of regular-season competition in basketball on November 15 or the preceding Friday if November 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday.”

Analysis: Division II is considering a similar proposal for a number of sports other than basketball. In the rationale, the sponsors note that the proposal does not have a significant academic impact. From a health and safety standpoint, the sponsors also mention that basketball has the longest preseason of any sport, so players are prepared for the season to begin.

No. 1–4 – Date of First Football Contest

Intent: “In football to permit an institution to play its first permissible contest (game) on the Thursday preceding the weekend which is eleven weeks prior to the first round of the NCAA Division III Championships.”

Analysis: The Division III football season starts on a Friday except when the opening weekend lands on Labor Day weekend, in which case institutions can play their first game on Thursday. This would allow institutions to play their first game on the Thursday preceding the weekend that allows for an 11-week regular season, regardless of whether it lands on Labor Day or not.

No. 1–5: Football – Nontraditional Segment

Intent: “To provide students participating in the sport of football with skill instruction and development opportunities equivalent to the opportunities provided student-athletes participating in other sports, while maintaining the health and safety of the student-athletes as a top priority.”

Analysis: This proposal would establish spring football in Division III. It would be based on the following format:

  • A total of 14 days of required activity within a five week period;
  • Four of the 14 days are “non-instruction” days limited to meetings, film study, fitness testing, and strength and conditioning;
  • Of the remaining 10 days, a three-day acclimatization period is required where no contact is allow and helmets are the only equipment permitted;
  • Seven days of contact, full-pads practice. Proper tackling form may be taught in all seven practices.
  • Of the seven days of contact practice, three may include live tackling, defined as bringing the ball carrier to the ground.
  • Two of the seven contact practices may be devoted to scrimmages.

During the five weeks, the 20-hour per week/4-hour per day limit is in effect. A football team is limited to three on-field practices plus one non-instruction day per week. This would replace D3 football’s current spring strength and conditioning segment.

No. 1–6: Out of Season Fundraising Activities – Use of Athletic Ability

Intent: To permit student-athletes to participate in institutional fundraising activities involving athletics ability provided that the student-athlete’s participation in the activity is voluntary.

Analysis: This would allow, for example, golfers to participate in the institution’s summer golf outing, so long as it was voluntary. The rationale for the proposal says these events do not include monitoring or assessment of an athlete’s ability and it would provide additional networking opportunities between athletes and alumni.

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