Proposed Split Of D-III Shelved By NCAA

The NCAA has announced that a possible split of Division III into two levels, or the creation of a “Division IV” does not find favor among member institutions.

Nearly 82 percent of NCAA Division III member schools support or strongly support the current Division III structure instead of the creation of a new division or subdivision, results of the Division III Membership Survey show.

Of the 442 active or provisional D-III programs, 96 percent responded to the mandatory survey.

In light of the survey results, the Division III Working Group on Membership Issues and the Executive Committee Working Group on Membership have concluded their work to address the membership growth and diversity in Division III.

The Division III Working Group on Membership Issues, which last fall proposed creating a new division or subdividing Division III in anticipation of divisional growth to 480 members by 2020, made the decision after reviewing results from a membership survey that asked for opinions about restructuring, among other questions.

“While Division III still has its differences and issues it will have to face if it continues to grow as expected, we see the survey results as very significant news,” said Rudy Keeling, chair of the DIII group and commissioner of the ECAC. “Our members are saying that despite their differences, they like being a part of Division III.”

The working group proposed creating a new classification based on higher minimum sports sponsorship and also featuring other membership standards that would have distinguished it from the current Division III. But members of the Division III panel characterized the degree of opposition to restructuring recorded in the survey as consistent with the level of opposition that was expressed during an NCAA Convention discussion of the working group’s proposal.

A number of delegates argued during the Convention discussion in January that restructuring is too severe a step for dealing with membership growth and its byproducts, while others said the membership needs more time to explore all options for accommodating future growth.

Other survey results include:

• About 15 percent of Division III schools support or strongly support the creation of a new division of the Association or the creation of a subdivision of Division III.

• More than sixty schools expressed the desire for the discussions of options to more directly address Division II.

• 48 percent of respondents support or strongly support adjusting the access ratio to championships and continue to limit the field to 64 as the best option in managing national championships in light of membership growth.

• 57 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that the current red-shirting prohibition in Division III should be upheld.

• 87 percent indicate a preference for the current recruiting and initial eligibility standards.

• 52 percent agree or strongly agree that a consideration of leadership in athletics in financial aid packaging should be allowed, provided that is consistent with the consideration of leadership in other student activities.

• 76 percent indicate a preference for a higher sports sponsorship minimum than the current standard of 10 sports, while 24 percent support the current standard of 10 or less.

• While the membership endorsed most current playing season restrictions, only one-half of the membership supports the current limit of one date of competition during the nontraditional segment in team sports. One-third of the membership would like more dates of competition, while 17 percent would permit no dates of competition during the nontraditional segment.

• Almost one-half of Division III’s directors of athletics report directly to the chief student affairs officer, while less than 20 percent report directly to the president or chancellor.

The working group continues to believe that membership growth will aggravate differences among Division III institutions on such questions of minimum sports sponsorship, appropriate membership standards and competitive restrictions, and also will make it increasingly difficult to maintain current levels of championships access.

Keeling noted, “If Division III is to move forward without structural change to accommodate its projected growth, it must address several policy issues and related practical challenges.”

“Relevant committees in the Division III governance structure will continue to look at how to move forward, as a division, while still managing membership growth,” said Dan Dutcher, NCAA vice president for Division III. The continued input of the Division III membership, especially chancellors and presidents, will be especially valuable in this regard.”