» «
35th NACDA Convention
Orlando, Florida
June 11-14, 2000

NCAA Division III Breakout Session
Current Issues in Division III Championships - Regional Alignment by Sport Parameters for Selection
Tuesday, June 13, 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.


Gary Karner

Good morning. My name is Gary Karner. I'm the commissioner of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and it is my pleasure to welcome you today's sunrise session on Division III championships. At the risk of shameless promotion, I wish to point out that this session is brought to you by the National Association of Division III Athletics Administrators. If you're not already an active member of that association, I encourage you to become involved or, at the very least, become a dues-paying member.

When our convention planning committee met, it was recognized that this would be an ideal opportunity to reflect on our experiences this past year in implementing the conceptual framework we adopted a few years back. To help us walk through this transition from the theoretical to the practical, we have an esteemed group of panelists here this morning. Starting on my right, we have Dan Dutcher, the NCAA Division III chief of staff. Next to him, we have Bridget Belgiovine, the NCAA Division III assistant chief of staff. Next to Bridget, we have Joy Reighn, the director of athletics at Rowan University and now the chair of the NCAA Division III Championships Committee. On the far right, we have Christine Pohl who is a senior assistant director of NCAA championships.

We're going to have Dan kick off our session this morning. He will talk about the process we may go through as we look at the short-term and long-term modifications to the current championships structure. Chris and Joy will then walk us through the nuts and bolts of the selection process, the evaluation regions, etc. Bridget will add in wherever she has an opportunity. Since we only have a short time, we would be best served to save any questions until everyone has been able to share their thoughts and reflections on this past year. With that, I'm turning this over to Dan Dutcher.

Dan Dutcher

Thanks Gary. Good morning everyone. I want to refer to my comments on the handout which, hopefully, all of you picked up on the way in. I want to focus on what this session is about by telling you what it won't be about. We're here to talk about fine tunings and modifications to the current automatic qualifications systems. We really won't be talking about significant changes to the current automatic qualifications systems. Let me try to distinguish those two points with a little more detail.

AQ was adopted in January 1999 at the convention and implemented for this first time this past academic year, 1999-2000. When the legislation was adopted in January 1999, the Presidents Management Council made some assurances that if the legislation were adopted, there would be some modifications made in order to facilitate the implementation of AQ. In fact, the modifications that were made changed the access ratio in team sports from 8.51 to 7.51. At the same time, the governance structure stressed some pretty loud preference to not consider further significant modifications to AQ, until the new process had been fully implemented for two years. What that means from a mathematical standpoint, is you've got 1999-2000 this past academic year having been year one of the new AQ process. You also have the coming academic year, 2000-01 as the second full year of AQ.

What that means from a process standpoint is that you'll have two full years of AQ having been implemented by 2000-01. At that point, it's going to be necessary for folks to step back and analyze the good, the bad of AQ. That will all take place during the 2001-02 academic year. We'll have two full years of implementation immediately followed by a year of analysis. It's during that year of analysis, 01-02, that folks should really focus on a dialogue of possible significant changes to AQ.

What do we mean by significant changes? I've tried to identify some of the significant changes we hear being kicked around in a bullet form toward the bottom of the handout. We're talking about changes like combining pools being C. That's one I hear being expressed with pretty good frequency. Pool B being reserved for independents, Pool D being reserved for non-conference champions. Revising the access ratios, which is another way of talking about bracket expansion. Changing the minimum number of conference members you might need to receive an automatic qualification bid. The number is seven right now. Possible multiple bids for conferences if you have 14 or more institutions or more flexibility in where teams are placed once they're selected for a bid. Different kinds of replacement within regions, for example. Those are all examples of significant changes to the AQ system. They won't be considered until the 01-02 academic year.

There's another related process that's playing itself out right now that I want to call your attention to. It has to do with membership, not directly related to championships, but we can all recognize in Division III, championships and memberships have all been related. The size of the membership of Division III directly effects the championships access that institutions have, especially when you're using an access ratio like we've been using in Division III.

Keep in mind that in 1999-2000, we adopted a membership moratorium for new provisional members. That moratorium will be effective for two years, 2000-01 and 2001-02. In 2001-02, that will be the first year we will apply our new minimum sports sponsorship requirements of five and five, an increase from four and four that currently applies.

What does that have to do with championships? Well, here's the link in my mind. Right now, we are in a situation where it's possible upwards of 50 current Division III members might not meet the increase to five and five for sports sponsorships purposes. We really need to play through the increased sports sponsorships requirements during this current year, 2001, getting ready for implementation for five and five in 01-02. We need to look at how many schools will and, more importantly, how many won't make the new five and five sports sponsorship requirements. That will have a direct effect on the ultimate size of schools that sponsor individual sports and what the proper access ratio ought to be and what the proper bracket sizes will be.

Ultimately, the process to consider significant changes to AQ will be similar to the process that you'll hear described for fine-tuning of AQ this morning. That is, remember the sport committees who report to the Championships Committee who ultimately report to the Management Council and to the Presidents Council. Keep in mind that when we adopted AQ in January 1999, we adopted it through proposed legislation. It wasn't necessary to adopt AQ through proposed legislation. Since the championships allocations and the championships birth process, ultimately, is within the purview, within the power of the governance structure of the Management Council and the Presidents Council to decide. Those bodies are empowered to make changes to automatic qualification on their own based on recommendations from the sports committees and the Championships Committee.

When we're talking about changes to AQ, which we would consider during 01-02 and implement in 02-03, it's not necessarily going to be through proposed legislation that it will happen. It might happen that way. I would suggest that the more significant the changes to the AQ, the more serious consideration the governance structure will give to possibly doing it through proposed legislation. The benefit of the governance structure itself being able to implement, rather than having to go through the legislative process, is that it can be done in a more timely manner if those changes are implemented through the governance structure directly, rather than having to wait until the next convention and the vote of the membership.

Those are my introductory notes to the process. Our next speaker will be Chris.

Christine Pohl

Good morning. I'm going to refer you to the handout a little bit further and walk you briefly through what you have. When we get down to talking about the nuts and bolts a little more and when you have questions at the end, you'll at least know what it is you're holding here.

The first part of the selection principle guidelines talks about the allocation of berths and what the pools A, B and C are. The next heading is the selection criteria and it outlines what the primary and secondary criteria are that the sports committees followed this past year. Turning to the next page, just a brief couple of sentences about regional alignments and what the regional alignments are based on. They are based on the directives of the Division III Championships Committee. It basically talks about members of the conferences being placed in the natural geographic region for evaluation purposes so all conference members should be in the same region.

The next section talks about selections. Once the teams have been selected, how then are they paired in the bracket? This, I know, is one of the questions you have. It also talks a little bit about conference membership deadlines, the two-year waiting period and what happens if you have a single-sport conference. The last page just gives you an outline of what the bracket sizes were for 1999-2000 and what each of the pools looked like. We don't have the numbers for the 2000-01 year because as we speak, sport committees are meeting, conferences are submitting their automatic declaration forms, etc., so, we'll have that number at the end of the summer. The chart will be ready to go for 2000-01. That's the basic information you have regarding the AQ principles. This is not new information.

When Gary asked Joy and I to talk this morning, he gave us some specific questions to address. I'll run through those briefly and Joy will be available to chime in from the Division III Championships Committee point of view because many of these items will receive further discussion from the Championships Committee at its June meeting.

One of the things is a clarification on the composition and role of the evaluation regions. We touched on that briefly on page 2 of the Selection Principle Guidelines in that all conference members will be placed in the same region for evaluation purposes. A couple of questions that we've heard about that issue is that when you have two regions lined up right next to each other and you've traditionally scheduled opponents, that it doesn't seem as though you're getting primary credit for playing those institutions although they might be right outside the sport committee region that's been established. In this new criteria, that's probably true. Yet, to play somebody in your region often requires you to travel even further than hopping across the boarder and playing somebody. You would receive some credit likely, because as you go through the primary criteria if the Sports Committee cannot make a decision based on the results of the primary criteria, part of the secondary criteria is out-of-region results. That's where you would receive some credit. Intuitively, in some peoples minds, that doesn't make as much sense. They feel you're not receiving full credit and a traditional opponent is five miles from you and happens to be just across the regional line. That's a valid point. Part of the issue is that you have to draw a line somewhere. Much like geographic proximity with the 400-mile restriction, one of the requests we hear frequently is, can we pair teams if they're 401 miles. You have to have a line drawn somewhere. For the purposes of the evaluation regions, the line is where the line is.

Does that mean that changes can't be made to that? I would say, at this point, it depends upon how strongly you feel about that particular issue. Obviously, if you have a concern, the Championships Committee would certainly like to hear that. It would be great if, when you hear concerns, you've thought of any ways to solve the problem.

The second question folks have had about regional alignments is why aren't all sports aligned in the same way? Part of that is if you go back to why sports committees aligned regions in the first place, part of that has to do with keeping all conference members in the same region. Also, there is some consideration about balancing the numbers numerically as best as possible. Different sports, obviously, have different alignments based on how the membership sponsors those sports. Some sports are more densely populated in certain areas of the country. So, from sport to sport, it has been difficult to think about aligning the regions all the same way.

A further question related to that is, in a sport like women's and men's basketball, when the numbers do appear fairly similarly, why, at least those two sports aren't aligned the same. Again, I would say if you feel that's an important consideration or would help the membership, move that information on to the Championships Committee. Part of the men's and women's basketball committees are talking a bit more back and forth about all kinds of issues, automatic qualifications principles, alignments, etc. As you know, those committees meet independently and aren't necessarily mandated at this point to have alignments that are exactly the same. Again, if you feel that's an important issue, make sure that the Championships Committee receives that input.

Another issue Gary though might be of interest to you is at-large selection criteria and a consistent application of these criteria among the sports committees. That's a very valid point. In this first year, there has been a lot of discussion, certainly among the staff liaisons working with each of those sports and, to a certain extent, the chairs of those committees, to try to work through the selection process and the pairing process as consistently as possible. I would say that we're continuing to work toward that. One thing that would be helpful to us would be your reaction to how the sports committees apply the criteria, both selection criteria and pairing criteria. We would like to hear what your experience with that has been. That is something the committees and the staff liaisons have been working toward.

One of the reasons inconsistencies have come about is when you sit with sports committees through this selection process, you will find you have differing amounts of information available to you. Whether institutions have different schedules, which is clearly the case frequently, just in terms of numbers, you don't have the same number of results to compare in this process. As you're going through the primary criteria, if you're looking at winning percentage, you can have the same winning percentage with differing amounts of information. If all you look at is winning percentage and one team has five more results than another, a sports committee is asked to evaluate that. How you evaluate that may vary from sport to sport.

Head to head results and common opponents is very straightforward. Again, are you looking for straight numbers or are you looking for an evaluation of what those numbers mean. Strength of schedule is something that sports committees, rather routinely, struggle with in terms of trying to objectify the process as best they can. Again, that's one area where there may be some differences. Results against the teams already in the tournament is pretty straightforward.

The second point that has happened over this past year that we've observed is when sports committees go from looking at the primary criteria and when they make the decision that they cannot make a decision based on the primary criteria and consequently move to the secondary criteria. That point for sports committees may be different. There are some things that could be looked at to try to make that more consistent from sport to sport. Some of the sports committees have requested to the Championships Committee to have a minimum number of in-region Division III results that's required. The Championships Committee has received that information, but has taken no action. If you have thoughts about that, it would be very helpful. I would encourage you to forward those thoughts to the Championships Committee.

Gary thought the apparent incongruity between selections based upon conference and regional competition and a national pool of at-large schools. Now, we're talking about pool B. As you know, with Pool B, those selections are based on an evaluation of criteria within the evaluation regions, but then, obviously, the pool is a national at-large pool. What often happens is you end up in a sports committee setting comparing or trying to compare a team, for example, in the northeast with a team in the west. You often find yourself doing that with very little common information. You have no head-to-head results. You have no common opponents. You're looking at winning percentage, strength of schedule and some of the other primary criteria based on what has happened regionally. It does appear there is an apparent incongruity, but that's in part of what happens with the sports committees. They're trying to close the gap between the incongruities. Again, they eventually look at winning percentages, strength of schedule, results against teams already in the tournament because often those other things aren't available. Obviously, if they don't have information on which to make a decision, they move into the secondary criteria.

It isn't always possible, even within region, when you're doing selections to have common information. It does seem to be a bit more exacerbated when you're asking to select Pool B from all parts of the country. If you feel there are some issues related to that or if you've observed some things you have feelings about, pass that on to the Championships Committee. Basically, that's what the sports committees are going by.

The last thing Gary had requested some feedback about is hosting and seeding determinations. The pairing process is outlined on page two of the handout. It's fairly straightforward in that once the teams are selected, most of the sport committees this year had a very large map in a selection room and placed all of those teams on that map. They had different colored pens to designate which institutions indicated they were interested and available to host. They also looked at the seeding of those teams within those regions. In part, much of the discussion is based on the fact that geographic proximity, at least as it is currently outlined, in the pairing process is that there has to be some strong consideration about creating additional flights.

Part of the issue that has caused people concern is in those evaluations regions. If you find the top two teams in that region end up playing each other, that really isn't necessarily in the best interest of the tournament. There is something more that can be done to free that up a little bit, so that you allow some of the best teams to eventually make it to the end of the tournament and that they are not knocked off right from the beginning. One of the large agenda items on the Championships Committee's June agenda is there will be a great deal of discussion about the site selection philosophy, site selection procedures, some ideas about loosening up the geographic proximity requirements a bit to address this exact issue or others like it. Others like it, include institutions practically being precluded from hosting simply because of where they are located in the country and nobody can drive to them.

In all of this, as many of you know, it's a work in progress. Overall, from the Sports Committee's point of view, the year went fairly smoothly. Obviously, there is more work that can be done. It's critical that the membership provides input. First of all, the consistency you've asked about in terms of how this criterion is applied from sport to sport can be further defined. When you have concerns, Joy would be happy to receive information. You're also welcome to send information to my attention at the national office. The Championships Committee is vitally interested in what you have to say.

Gary Karner

Before we open up for comments or questions, Joy or Bridget, do either of you have anything to add at this point? I'm going to ask the group a question related to the selection criteria and this may be specific to our conference and our problems in scheduling. I know the secondary criteria doesn't kick in and I'm speaking specifically about looking at competition against out-of-region schools, competition against either NAIA or Division II opponents. This doesn't kick in until the primary selection criteria has played itself out. I was wondering some general discussion among the Championships Committee or individual sports committees as it relates to conferences that may have difficulty in scheduling in-region competition. In our case, in football, we have a very difficult time with in-region competition. This next year, of our 24 non-conference games, we have only eight against Division III opponents and only three of them are in-region. I was wondering if there has been any discussion about that. In those cases, does that secondary criteria get elevated, so to speak?

Jeff Cohen

Has there been any thought about having the Pool B regionalized in the sense that the regional selection committees would know they have one or two schools from that pool that they can select. I agree with you that a national selection of these schools is next to impossible. Since these regional committees know who these schools are and know where the inequities are, their recommendations would be that much stronger.

My second question is since I belong to a conference that is not regional, it would be helpful if there was something to say that schools that belong to conferences that are not regional, their non-regional games would be considered with the same impact for them as schools who are playing nothing but regional competition.

Chuck Gordon

Chuck Gordon from Emory. One thing that creates some problems to try to play in-region competition for those of us who are in geographically diverse regions is what happens when leagues are pulled out. For example, in some sports, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference moved from the south to another region. That takes virtually all of the teams I can bus to in-region out of consideration. When that process happens after schedules are made, which happens often, then you go to a number of steps to try to increase your in-region play. You schedule teams that are in-region. For example, using soccer, they are in-region in the fall and then over the spring, those teams are moved. You now have gone to great cost juggling your schedule to include a team who now doesn't count anymore.

I don't know what can be done with the calendar about how those teams are moved, but it would be very helpful, excluding football, which works 10 years out. Most other sports work 12 to 18 months ahead. If there could be some consistency within the scheduling rotation, it would help those of us in very spread-out regions that are making efforts to play regional games when we schedule. It's very frustrating to have that happen.

I notice you really only use common opponents in the region. When you address the issue that there are sometimes teams that are five miles outside, it would be helpful to common opponents, regardless of where those common opponents are. If two teams in the region have both played a team that's outside the region, you can't really consider that result until you move beyond the regional criteria. It doesn't seem to make much sense to me if both teams have played an out-of-region opponent and those are the two teams that are under consideration and many other criteria may lead you one way or another. If there's a clear cut two or three common opponent that they both played outside the region, it would seem impossible to use those.

For Dan, eventually, when we get to looking at changing Pools B and C, etc., it would be helpful for us to be able to see a chart at the end of this two-year period about what was the winning percentage of teams who were in Pool B that were independent institutions, in Pool B from non-qualifying conferences and maybe Pool C, what their winning percentage in the tournaments were. Just to give us a sense of how the teams are selected in each one of those areas tend to advance to the tournaments. We've gotten numbers that we would want to look at, picking teams and see how they advance. If we're going to fudge that around a little bit, it might be helpful to know what the success of those teams were as we get to that point in 01 and 02. Thank you.

Jerry Chaplin

I'm Jerry Chaplin from Messiah College. I have a question from page three, under the pairings. It talks about if a fall site criteria is equal, the highest seedest team will be selected as the host institution. This assumes that the bid information has been received by the NCAA by the deadline. There was a situation in our region in women's basketball this year where the higher seeded team had to travel to the lower seeded team because their information wasn't received in time. We have to rely on the U.S. Mail, so I'm wondering if there is some kind of system that could give us a confirmation when bid packages are received with our budgets. It would be helpful so we don't get caught. It wasn't my school, but I felt for the school that happened to.

Thank you.

(Answer was inaudible.)

Jeff Cohen

I'm Jeff Cohen from Brandeis University. On our Basketball Selection Committee, we had some difficulty with scores against provisional members. Should they have been counted? With what weight should they have been counted? My personal feeling was they shouldn't have been counted at all, but there was some confusion as to what should have happened there. It could very well change the position on a particular school as to whether or not they're going to be selected based on this. We need a very hard and fast statement on that.

(Answer was inaudible.)

Mike Vienna

I'm Mike Vienna from Salisbury State University. My concern deals more with the regional alignment. Christine, you mentioned that you do have to draw a line and I understand that. You get to a point where the secondary criteria is where you can look at out-of-region play. My perception over the year is that only a very few number of cases does it get down to a couple of institutions where you had to go beyond the primary criteria to the second criteria. It only impacts a few institutions in a given sport.

My understanding for the emphasis on regional play was to address missed class time, cost containment and some of the politics that goes on with playing the right people. You're trying to play the schedule all over the place. In theory, it's very good. However, in practice, it falls short. As a previous colleague mentioned, when you're in a region as I am in Maryland that runs from Texas to Maryland, you're missing people and it's very difficult. This year, a case in point, we had a national committee member who is a regional chair said, you just have to start playing the right people. When we were in a particular sport where that sport region jumped nearly two states to pick up another conference to pull them in, there was some politics that went on. We wanted to jump over a couple of conferences. We weren't playing enough people in that region and we were told we needed to start playing the right kind of people. In our case, we're driving by numerous institutions within a two or three-hour period to play people six and eight hours away. I don't think that meets cost containment or missed class time criteria

I don't know the answer. We ought to take a look at it by institution, by sport. Stay in the region where your conference is. That makes perfectly good sense. Why can't we select the next 50 closest Division III institutions to that particular institution. That becomes your own region. In one sense, you become the center of your own region. We will never be able to because we're 30 miles from an ocean, so we're always going to be an outliner. That's just a suggestion. Take a look at the 50 closest institutions as opposed to the natural geographic boundaries.

(Answer was inaudible.)

Tape Ended.