» «

NCAA Division II - Breakout
An Era of Change - Deregulation for Division II - Playing Practice Season, Initial Eligibility and Recruiting
(Monday, June 15, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.)

Ron Prettyman:

Before we get started, there is a Spouses' Hospitality Suite located at the north end of the hotel by the Voyager Restaurant sponsored by Outback Trophy Suites. They've installed a portable luxury suite. Please inform your spouses and try to stop in for a visit.

Good morning and welcome to the first breakout session of this 1998 NACDA Convention. I'm Ron Prettyman, athletics director at Cal State Dominguez Hills and a member of NACDA's Executive Committee. I had the opportunity this April to go to Japan with our university baseball team. It was a great trip and a terrific cultural experience for the young men on our team. When we arrived back in Los Angeles, we were all together going through Customs. The Customs agent stopped our coach and asked him if we were all Americans. The coach said, "No, we're not all that good, but we do have some conference players." That's the way it is in our business, athletics is always on our minds.

This session is entitled "Deregulation for Division II." Our presenters are Jim Fallis, the athletics director at the University of North Colorado, home of the Bears. They've won the last two national championships in football. Jim's very active in the NCAA and in community leadership. Jerry Hughes, the athletics director at Central Missouri State University for the past 16 years, has been very involved in NCAA committees. David Schnase serves the membership at the NCAA national office in Kansas in the Legislative Service Offices.

Each of the presenters will talk for a few minutes. At the end, hopefully, you'll have the opportunity for questions and answers. Dave is going to be talking about some upcoming meetings. Division II deregulation is something that is on a lot of our minds and it's something we can help each other with by coming up with creative ideas and discussing some of the issues. At this point, I'll turn it over to Jim Fallis.

Jim Fallis:

Thanks Ron. People always ask me if I'm for deregulation. I'm all for it. I hope today we'll stimulate some dialogue and ask a question if there is a problem. Bylaw 17, Playing and Practice Season, only encompasses 84 pages in the NCAA Manual. Eligibility, Bylaw 14, is only 38 pages and Recruiting is only 36 pages. Maybe we don't have a problem. It seems like deregulation is a lot like the weather. Everybody complains about it, but nobody does anything about it. Hopefully, this will stimulate some dialogue where we'll get to a point of addressing what are problems and what are not.

When we talk about playing and practice seasons, it seems like so many of the things we're straddled with now have resulted. Five or six years ago, the Knight Commission came out with all of the problems in college athletics today. I've gone through the Knight Commission several times and I haven't seen a single issue addressed specifically for Division II. All of the problems were Division I. Now, we have a 20-hour a week practice playing schedule and it was a Division I problem. We have a day off, that was a Division I problem. All of these things were stimulated and created through Division I.

Accountable athletic related activities. What is it? Why does it need to be a page and a half in the Manual? I don't know. Accountable contests. Why do we need to have a one-half page finding accountable contests? I don't know whether we do. It seems to be compounded and compounded.

Playing seasons, two distinct segments. I don't know how many of you have full-time coaches, but when they get out of their 20-hour a week first segment, they're just chomping at the bit; they don't know what to do with themselves. If you've got part-time coaches, they're just thankful they're getting some breathing time during the first two segments, but then, they have to go right back to work. Do we really need to have two segments? Do we need to redefine and re-create? Playing seasons that expand semesters is another issue. At our institution, the vacation times that we have to have our student-athletes on campus runs us approximately $25,000 and that does not include the preseason when we're bringing in the football, the soccer, the volleyball and cross country teams in before school starts. It's amazing the amount of money we're spending on housing and feeding kids during seasons that are in between semesters. Can we take a look and go back and define sports as semester-type sports to save some of that money?

Days off in baseball are a nightmare. I don't know about the rest of you, but when we get into the days off situation with baseball, it's raining and it's raining and they're trying to get in and get a game in and can't play the game. Then, they sit down and figure out a calendar. You'd need a calculator to figure out that day off in baseball. When I was coaching, we used to always stretch the day after competition. From a physical therapeutic standpoint, it made a lot of sense. I, as the coach, would supervise that. This was before the days of the day off, but I really saw a decrease in injuries as a result of that. Now, we're given the days off and sometimes I think we miss some of the things that we can do in terms of benefiting the student-athletes. We now have rules about stretching after competition. We can't do this. Why? Because we had some coaches that didn't know how to handle losses.

When we talk about eligibility, there's a section that talks about ethical conduct. I don't know how many do your annual NCAA meetings with all of your student-athletes. I do. I typically ask the freshmen to define ethical conduct. It's tough for them to do. A lot of them don't know what ethical conduct is. I'm afraid to ask my coaches what ethical conduct is because they might not know. We need to define the rules and we need to simplify them.

When we talk about initial eligibility, we need to take a look at the Clearinghouse, what the purpose of the Clearinghouse was originally, what the purpose of the Clearinghouse is now. We're now moving in that direction. We have a committee that will handle the problems we have concerning the Clearinghouse. But, what's wrong in Division II in saying that if a student-athlete has a certain grade point average and certain ACT or SAT scores, we don't need to mess with a Clearinghouse. I don't know what that grade point average is. I don't know what that ACT or SAT score is, but if we, as a Division II community, can come together on that, we can save ourselves a lot of headaches. If the kid has a 3.0 and a 24 or 25 on his ACT, let's make him automatically eligible whether it's your institution or my institution.

Those are the types of challenges we need to have. Originally, the Clearinghouse was intended to serve as a leveling of the playing field because of lot of high schools weren't sending the transcript information to certain institutions. Other institutions would be able to declare the kid eligible because they had the information and the competing institutions couldn't. That was really one of the first things the Clearinghouse was supposed to do. Send it to one place and everybody had a fair shot at that student-athlete. Well, it's gone in a much different direction since then.

Always controversial, but another one that's hard for me to figure out is the hardship. The statistics now tell us that more than 80 percent of the students take five years to graduate. Since most of us don't deal with those that are going to go on and play professional sports, I wonder what is the problem with allowing somebody to compete for five years. Throw out the hardship; throw out the red shirt. If a football coach has a kid that he's planning on red shirting and towards the end of their freshman year, they're good enough to play a little football, let him play. But, throw out the 10 percent rule. It's always controversial, but perhaps it's something we need to take a look at.

I really think we've got so many committees and the most important committee that we're missing is a committee on common sense. I had an opportunity to talk with an individual here who went through a frustrating process. A student-athlete went to an NAIA school that closed down. He played football his first year because he could do that at an NAIA school. But, the school closed after the fall semester. The student had nothing and no place to go. He went back to his home state and is a non-qualifier for the next semester. When the next year rolled around, because of our rules that say you must have two semesters of attendance before you can compete, he lost a year. Is that really what the intent of the rule was? Granted that if that institution stayed open, that would be a different situation. He doesn't have the opportunity to stay there. The interpretation is that a student-athlete must put in two semesters of attendance at the second institution, cannot compete that next year, even though they're in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress.

Let's talk about recruiting. Phone calls, multi-sport athletes, how many of us have part-time coaches and how well do those part-time coaches communicate with each other and how often do we end up recruiting multi-sport athletes? It's very difficult to coordinate. If you're fortunate enough to have a full-time staff and you have weekly meetings, even then you have problems in getting the track coach to talk to the football coach about a kid. We need to take a look at that and simplify that.

A lot of the rules we have make sense, but I'm not sure we're enforcing them. I'm not one of those that like rules that you can't enforce or don't want to enforce. We need to address those issues.

Another issue we need to take a look at is the employment issue of student-athletes. A lot of times we look to see what Division I does. What are they doing now? They're allowing employment for full-scholarship student-athletes. Are we going to disadvantage ourselves in that recruiting process or are we going to take a look at this. We need to take a serious look and see whether or not we want to lighten some of the restrictions on employment.

I see the recruiting calendars as a very difficult challenge for part-time coaches and sometimes a challenge for full-time coaches to try to interpret and understand. At my institution, we have a full-time compliance coordinator. It's a significant amount of our operational budget and it sure would be nice if we could take and redirect some of that individual's efforts to fund raising and various other areas other than spending all of this time on compliance at a Division II institution. I would recommend that everybody establish a committee on your campus with your coaches and have everyone of them go through and discuss and bring up rules that don't feel comfortable, rules that they feel are not enforceable and rules that they think should be taken out of the book. We, as athletics directors and athletics administrators bring those rules back and see some commonality, we can go ahead and move those rules and possibly eliminate those rules.

Ultimately, deregulation requires honesty, trust and common sense. If you think simplification is possible, be sure to make the move. July 15 is the deadline for legislation for next year's convention.

Thank you.

Jerry Hughes:

Thank you Jim. I'm Jerry Hughes from Central Missouri State University. I'm going to touch on some of the things that Jim did, but I'm going to focus more on deregulation from where we're at right now to the real bizarre possibly. I first want to emphasize the importance to this group. I'm on the Management Council and we are nearing the end of our first year of federation. Division II has a real opportunity, because of the new structure, to do lots of things that are good for Division II. Not only in the area of deregulation, but also, in the area of budget and finance which we'll talk about later.

In the area of deregulation, we all know, and the many of you out there I've known for many years know, that we've ended up being coat-tailed into passing something because Division I passed something. Jim was talking about the Knight Commission earlier today. There's not one Division II person on the Knight Commission. All of those issues were driven by Division I presidents and athletics directors and they were concerns of Division I. They were embraced by the Division II Presidents Commission which pushed the playing and practice seasons through. I'm not saying all of those things are bad, I'm saying that in Division II, we have an opportunity to do things that are right for Division II and make sense for Division II, especially because of our staff sizes. None of us have the staff that Division I institutions have. Many of us operate with part-time coaches, graduate assistants and people that aren't full-time like Division I. Some of these things don't make sense. I would encourage all of you today to give us some ideas. A lot of you out there can help us to make changes that are better for Division II. Get your ideas to your Management Council representative or to David's committee.

On initial eligibility, we need to come up with some obvious qualifier that makes it easier for some of those kids so they don't all have to go through the Clearinghouse. Whether that's 25 in a combination of test scores, 24 or whatever correlates the SAT scores, combination of test scores, class rank, is an easy thing to do. Moving on to one that's a little more bizarre which, obviously, if you're against test scores, you won't be in favor of this, but just go with a straight test score. I'm talking about obvious qualifiers, just go with the straight test score. What that threshold is, 24, 25, I don't know. It's on their high school transcript, it's on the SAT label and that kid doesn't have to go to the Clearinghouse.

Another one that moves back to where we used to be is anyone who is admitted into your university that's not on some type of special admit. Anyone who meets the entrance requirements to your university. Obviously, the Clearinghouse was put in to level the playing field because all of us have different entrance requirements. The reality of the situation is, a kid that might make the Clearinghouse scores, but would be a special admittance into your university, is going to struggle in your university once they're seated in the classrooms and around other students who have made the normal entrance requirements. An easy obvious qualifier would be that student-athletes that meets the normal entrance requirements for your university. I'm not saying you couldn't have other kids; they would go through the Clearinghouse, but it eliminates kids from going to the Clearinghouse.

Another one that's way out there. It takes us back to the 60s. Do away with freshmen eligibility. That impacts budgets for all of us. Any freshman coming in could practice, but would not be eligible. Then, they would have four years after that. Obviously, the national stats on college graduation are about 6.2 years across the country. Many of our students take five years. That would have a drastic impact on budgets, but it's another thing to think about. That whole initial bylaw would be gone if you did something like that. I know these go from where we're at right now to the bizarre or take us back to an early time when freshmen couldn't compete.

We have many rules in the recruiting area that we just coattail on because of Division I, some of our telephone solicitation and our recruiting calendars. Once a student-athlete's season starts, we've let them follow through and go out and see them. It is difficult when you have part-time coaches for them to understand all of that. Even though they have to pass the test, it's sometimes difficult to get them to staff meetings to make sure they understand everything about the recruiting calendar. To make sure, once again, that the football and the track coach aren't recruiting the same person.

Our staff limitations limit a lot of the things we're able to do. My compliance person today used to do lots of other things. Now they're virtually full-time on compliance. That's a staff person who could be better utilized.

I look forward to answering any questions. I'll pass it on to David.

David Schnase:

Thanks Jerry. I've been asked to speak to this group, I believe, because I'm the staff liaison to the Division II Legislation Committee. We actually have two of those members in the audience today. I'd like to take a couple of minutes to talk about the committee's charge. First of all, as many of you know, the Presidents Council has charged the Division II Legislation Committee with deregulating the Division II Manual. The Division II Legislation Committee has taken that charge and has met over the past couple of months. The committee believes this is a unique opportunity for Division II to deregulate their Manual. In the past, we've had deregulation efforts that have been taken care of by an association-wide committee. Divisions I, II and III were all getting together in trying to deregulate the Manual. That seemed to be a little cumbersome. This is a different kind of effort. This is by Division II only, so you have the chance to take your Manual, cut out some rules that you don't think belong there, and otherwise, make it an easier Manual to work with.

The Division II Legislation Committee, through their charge, is looking for ways to deregulate. One of those ways is to have a deregulation summit. The Committee has decided to have a deregulation summit that takes place July 23 and 24 in San Diego. This summit is a chance for the Committee to get input from the rest of the membership about how the membership wants to deregulate the Manual. There will be representatives at this summit from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, the Baseball Coaches Association, the Conference Commissioners Association, student-athletes, American Volleyball Coaches Association, American Football Coaches Associations. Faculty athletics representatives will be there; NACWAA will have a representative there and there will be a representative from the Presidents Council as well. So, you can see that the committee is getting people from all over the country and different walks of life that really work with the Manual on a day-to-day basis. That's what is important when you try to deregulate. You've got to have the people who know what's going on with the Manual before you can take out rules that really don't apply. I encourage you to talk to some of the people I mentioned here from their associations. If you have any recommendations from your institution, you can send them to the committee courtesy of me. You can send them to any one of the members of the committee or any one of these members of the association.

What's important today is to have an open discussion and get some ideas to take back to the committee or back to your campuses to try and sponsor legislation.

Ron Prettyman:

This is an opportunity at this point for us as Division II members to let our voice be heard. We don't get this opportunity in a forum often enough. It's a good chance for us with David here who will be running the summit in San Diego for us to have our voice heard. At this time, hopefully, some of the things you've heard have prompted some questions or comments. I'd like to open it up for you to express your opinions.

Are there any comments or questions at this point.

All comments were inaudible.