Champs Committee Recap

Plus: Summer Publishing. Pathway Program 2024-25. The Plan Not To Be Sued.

JUNE 10, 2024 | written by STEVE ULRICH

The news that you need to know about non-scholarship college athletics and those that love it.
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» 👋 Welcome to Summer 2024. We move into our summer publishing schedule with editions on Monday and Thursday mornings. All the news, while taking a breather. Thanks for your support of D3Playbook.

» 🗓️ What’s Happening Today. The Playing and Officiating Rules Committee for softball meets through Wednesday, while the Men’s Basketball Committee meets today.

1. Champs Committee Recap

The DIII Championships Committee met via videoconference on May 14. Here are the takeaways from the meeting.

The committee noted that in addition to the Division III Management Council approving, in concept, the NPI as the metric for selecting non-automatic qualifiers for the championship field for Division III team sports, effective September 1, 2024, the Division III Presidents Council also endorsed implementing the NPI for the 2024-25 academic year during its April meeting. Both councils urged the Championships Committee to continue developing educational materials and resources to help the Division III membership and sport committees implement the new metric beginning this fall.””

» Women’s Ice Hockey. The committee approved the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to host the 2025 Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship. The selection of the host at this time was necessitated because of the predetermined final site pilot that was approved in August 2023 in which the championship will rotate from campus sites to predetermined sites every other year.”

» Web Streaming. “87% of the 322 respondents said they currently produce their own broadcasts. The committee considered a potential proposal to add video streaming as a requirement in minimum bid specifications for preliminary-round contests in specified sports. The proposal specifies minimum expectations that would be effective with the 2024-25 academic year and includes providing funding to offset costs associated with web streaming NCAA championship preliminary rounds.”

» Scheduling. “(The committee discussed) a broader issue regarding the 70% in-region threshold. Given the shift to using the NPI for selection purposes and how contests are counted within that system (i.e., contests versus non-Division III teams not counting for selection purposes), the Championships Committee discussed whether the legislation regarding the 70% in-region requirement should be changed to 70% of scheduled Division III contests versus 70% of all scheduled contests. The committee believes that doing so may reduce the number of requests to waive this requirement and may account for those geographically challenged institutions that schedule non-Division III contests simply as opportunities for their student-athletes to compete, rather than to boost their selection data.”


2. NCAA Selects Athletics Administrators for 2024-25 Pathway Program

by Corbin McGuire, NCAA

“The NCAA has selected 21 administrators across all three divisions as its cohort for the 2024-25 Pathway Program, a yearlong initiative designed to prepare senior-level athletics administrators for their next career step as directors of athletics or conference commissioners.

The Pathway Program, under the direction of NCAA leadership development, is an intensive, experiential learning opportunity for selected participants who work at an NCAA school or conference in Divisions I, II or III. During the year, the participants will be paired with and have regularly scheduled meetings with a campus or conference mentor. The mentors include directors of athletics, conference commissioners and school presidents, along with others in leadership roles.

The program is structured to help cement their leadership purpose and enhance their skills in areas that focus on strategic planning; fundraising; message articulation; diversity, equity and inclusion; organizational leadership; hiring processes; and engagement with search firms.”

» Quotable. “The Pathway Program continues to illustrate why it is a signature developmental opportunity for senior-level administrators in the membership and the future executive leaders in college athletics," said DeeDee Merritt, director of leadership development at the NCAA.”

» Who’s Who. DIII representatives include: Chassidy Holloway, associate executive director, Midwest Conference; Libby Ladrach, associate athletics director, Wooster; Matthew McMasters, assistant director of athletics for business operations, Tufts; Casie Runksmeier, deputy athletics director/senior woman administrator, Colby; Ryan Wildenhain, associate athletics director for student-athlete development, Marymount

3. These College Leaders Have a Plan to ‘Not Be Sued All the Time’ Over Sports

by Nell Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education

“No institution with an athletic program is immune from the mountain of litigation facing college sports. But there is one group that, given the size of its members’ budgets, is in a particularly precarious spot: Division I colleges that are not football powerhouses.

That group could be subject to many of the same legal challenges as members of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest competitive level in Division I. They will help pay a $2.75-billion settlement in the recent antitrust case, House v. NCAA, if a judge approves it. They could someday be forced to negotiate with unionized teams if a National Labor Relations Board decision to allow Dartmouth College’s men’s basketball team to collectively bargain is upheld.

While colleges in the most lucrative conferences may have the revenue to weather that storm, most Division I colleges just don’t.”

» Situational Awareness. “Some members of that group have a plan to head off that scenario. Broadly, it seeks to de-professionalize athletics on their campuses, so that sports look more like extracurricular activities and less like jobs. In other words, something resembling amateurism — the model the National Collegiate Athletic Association has used as a legal defense for decades but failed to realize in practice.”

» Reality Check. “One piece of the plan is a tool for determining when a coach or athletic department is exerting too much control over athletes. A chart that will be presented to member institutions lists appropriate expectations a coach can impose and inappropriate ones that should be avoided because they verge on something more like an employer-employee relationship.”

» What They’re Saying. “Karen Weaver, who teaches about higher education and college sports at the University of Pennsylvania, said it made sense that this group of colleges would want to craft a plan together. She had not seen the plan, but commented on its general direction. “They’re going to have to make some changes in order to not be sued all the time,” she said.”

4. A #whyD3 Story. Traore Wins DI Title in 200 Meters

A great day for DIII.

Ramapo graduate Cheickna Traore captured the DI championship in the 200 meters at the NCAA championship, covering the distance in 19.95. Traore becomes back-to-back champion in the event, winning the title in the 2023 DIII meet.

He became the first Penn State athlete to win a NCAA outdoor spring title since 1941.

» What They’re Saying. “NCAA Champion! I'm so proud of all Cheick did to represent Penn State this year, even though he isn't finished, as he will continue his journey and run at the Olympic Games in Paris (for the Ivory Coast) this summer." - Penn State track & field coach John Gondak.

5. Lightning Round

» 🏃‍♂️ Track and Field. UW-Whitewater’s Christian Patzka set a NCAA DIII record in the steeplechase, finishing in 8:31.89 at the Portland Track Festival. The mark was nearly seven seconds better than the old mark.

» 🥎 Softball. East Texas Baptist SS Tristen Maddox was named the NFCA DIII Player of the Year.

» 🗞️ News. “As the academic year wound down for many institutions last month, administrators at a handful of colleges outlined big changes, with job cuts and program reviews underway or on the horizon, including Brandeis, Buffalo State, Lynchburg, Northland, St. Norbert, Southern Maine,

6. Comings and Goings

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