What is proposal 2-69?
The legislation would eliminate an NCAA Division III Management Council waiver that, for reasons of history and tradition, has granted a very small group of Division III institutions the ability to continue offering athletic grants-in-aid to student-athletes participating in a Division I sport.
How many schools will this affect?
Only eight of the 424 Division III schools are affected: Clarkson (men's and women's ice hockey), Colorado College (men's ice hockey, women's soccer), Hartwick (men's soccer, women's water polo), Johns Hopkins (men's and women's lacrosse), Oneonta State (men's soccer), RPI (men's ice hockey), Rutgers-Newark (men's volleyball) and St. Lawrence (men's and women's ice hockey).
Why did the Management Council/President's Council propose this legislation?
The legislation was proposed as a part of a larger Division III reform agenda. The Management Council determined that the one common core principle of Division III was the prohibition of athletic grants-in-aid. The Management Council felt that it was important to continue to give multi-divisional schools the autonomy to compete in particular sports at a level consistent with their institutional traditions. The Management Council also felt, however, that if the multi-divisional schools wanted to be classified in Division III, they should not offer athletic grants-in-aid even in their Division I sports.
Why should these schools be exempted?
The waiver was granted in 1982-1983 to recognize the very special situation that exists at a small group of institutions. As a group, the eight schools operate typical Division III programs very much guided by the Division III philosophy. The only significant difference between us and other Division III members is a history and tradition of prominence in one particular sport, generally a sport that has a relatively low national visibility but that is important locally or regionally. Given this history, and the importance of that one traditional sport to each institution, its students, alumni and community, it makes sense for our institutions to continue competing in their traditional sports at the highest competitive level. In other sports, they play in Division III, a status consistent with their institutional philosophies. The waiver is consistent with an underlying principle of the Division III philosophy, which states that "the purpose of the NCAA is to assist its members to develop the basis for consistent, equitable competition while minimizing infringement on the freedom of individual institutions to determine their own special objectives and programs."
Why were some multi-divisional schools permitted to add a second scholarship sport?
Some multi-divisional institutions have elevated or added a scholarship Division I sport since 1982-1983. When the waiver was revised in 1994, the membership included the following language: "This provision also applies to such an institution that later reclassifies a sport for the opposite gender to Division I." If this had not been included, any multi-divisional school that took advantage of the waiver might have fallen out of Title IX compliance.
Don't multi-divisional schools have a competitive advantage?
The majority of the eight's conference rival schools, the schools against which we compete most of the time, support our position. For instance, Steve Ulrich, the executive director of the Centennial Conference, of which Johns Hopkins University is a member, says, "We are the ones that compete with Hopkins for automatic berths to Division III tournaments. If there is an advantage to having a Division I program on campus for the remainder of the Division III programs, it is not apparent at Johns Hopkins and it has not presented problems for our conference. If it does not bother us, why should it bother the rest of Division III?" John Fry, president of Franklin and Marshall and chair of the Centennial Conference Executive Committee, says, "It is (the Centennial Conference's) position that Johns Hopkins has gained no competitive advantage on the other members of the Centennial Conference from its Division I lacrosse program. As Hopkins' chief competitors for automatic berths to NCAA Division III championships, the Centennial Conference is proud of its association with this world-class university and wonders why this is a concern to the remainder of Division III if it is not problematic for us."
It is also clear on a national basis that the eight schools do not gain any competitive advantage in Division III competition through fielding one or two Division I teams. The statistic by which Division III programs are compared (the NACDA Directors' Cup rankings) illustrates that the multi-divisional schools over the past eight years do not have any sort of advantage over a small private college conference (NESCAC) or a larger state university conference (WIAC). The multi-divisional school's average finish since 1996 has been 83rd. The average finish of the NESCAC and WIAC have been 63rd and 65th, respectively. In 2003, the multi-divisional institutions placed one school (Johns Hopkins) in the top 30 of the Directors' Cup rankings. NESCAC and WIAC each placed four schools in the top 30.
Does the exemption damage Division III's ability to establish an atmosphere consistent with the philosophy of Division III and its member institutions?
No. The eight schools represent less than 2 percent of the entire Division III membership. Together, they offer a total of 13 sport programs at the Division I level. This represents 0.18 percent of the approximately 7,000 sport programs offered by Division III institutions. We believe strongly in the principles of Division III, but we do not believe that an exception — granted in extremely special cases for clear and specific reasons, and affecting fewer than one of every 538 sport programs offered by Division III schools — represents a concern to the future of Division III.
Don't multi-divisional schools have better Division III facilities because of their Division I sports?
Some institutions place a higher priority on athletics than others and build facilities accordingly. There is no evidence that those priorities are dependent on whether or not an institution is multi-divisional. Compare the natatoriums at Middlebury, Franklin and Marshall or Emory to those at Johns Hopkins or RPI. Compare soccer facilities at Emory, Messiah or Misericordia to those at RPI, Clarkson or Johns Hopkins. Compare football facilities at Gettysburg or Mount Union to those at RPI or Colorado College. For a wide variety of reasons (athletics emphasis, professional sports team involvement, alumni support, corporate involvement, etc.), institutions have chosen to develop and maintain a wide range of athletic facilities. An institution does not need to sponsor a Division I program to have quality athletics facilities, nor does sponsoring a Division I sport guarantee that an institution's Division III sports have better facilities than other Division III programs.
Do the multi-divisional schools follow the Division III philosophy in their Division III sports?
The eight institutions have been operating within the appropriate guidelines and policies of the NCAA (Division I and Division III) since the inception of classifications. We believe strongly in the Division III philosophy. We offer a wide range of sports and broad-based athletics participation. Our institutions offer an average of 21 intercollegiate programs, six more than the NCAA Division III average and 11 more than the NCAA Division III minimum.
What impact could this legislation have on the communities where our institutions reside?
It is likely that without athletic grants-in-aid, the Division I programs at the eight schools could not remain competitive. Towns such as Canton, N.Y. (St. Lawrence) and Potsdam, N.Y. (Clarkson) rely on competitive Division I hockey and the spectators it attracts to sustain tourism and entertainment-related businesses (restaurants, hotels, etc.). The loss of spectators either because Clarkson and St. Lawrence are not as competitive in Division I or because they move to a Division III schedule could be devastating to the economies of these small towns in upstate New York.
Oneonta, N.Y. (Hartwick and Oneonta State) is known as "Soccer Town USA" due to the rich history and tradition of soccer in that community. The National Soccer Hall of Fame is located in Oneonta specifically for this reason. The loss of competitive Division I soccer in Oneonta could have a negative impact on its tourism economy.
Colorado College hosted the first 10 NCAA hockey championships, beginning in 1948. When the old World Arena (site of those NCAA tourneys) was torn down, members of the community stepped up and provided significant funding for a new facility. The new World Arena operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and currently hosts hundreds of events each year for the community to enjoy. David Palenchar, President and CEO of World Arena stated, "Colorado College hockey is as essential a part of the fabric of this community as Pikes Peak."
Similarly, Johns Hopkins' tradition in lacrosse is important to the Baltimore community and its economy. The Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the headquarters of U.S. Lacrosse, the sport's national governing body, are on the university's campus. The sport's World Championships and other significant competitions, including the women's NCAA Division I national championship, have been held at Johns Hopkins, drawing thousands of visitors to the city. The university was one of the co-organizers of the 2003 NCAA Division I-II-III Men's Lacrosse Championship weekend, which drew record numbers of fans to Baltimore.
What impact could this legislation have on the respective sports?
Sports such as ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer are experiencing some of their most impressive rates of growth in decades . The loss of storied programs at the highest levels in these sports would be detrimental to the growth of these sports at all levels of competition.
Do the multi-divisional schools have any representation at the Division I level?
The multi-divisional schools are not permitted to hold leadership/committee positions on administrative committees in Division I. Thus, we do not have institutional representation of our interests in the governance of the division.
Do the multi-divisional schools receive any revenue from Division I?
The multi-divisional schools do not receive a portion of the Division I Championship monetary disbursement. The schools do not receive the annual Academic Enhancement payout made to Division I institutions. Multi-divisional schools do not have access to the NCAA Student-Athlete Assistance Fund that allows Division I student-athletes (based on need) access to funding for emergency situations. They do not receive Division I funding for sport sponsorship, nor do they receive NCAA grant-in-aid funding for offering scholarships.
Can scholarship athletes participate in Division III athletics?
No. Although there is no prohibition in the NCAA Manual, multi-divisional schools have been operating under an NCAA interpretation from the mid-1990s that prohibits Division I scholarship student-athletes from participating in Division III sports.
When recruits come to your campus, do you take them to your Division I events?
Coaches at the eight schools take our recruits to any athletics event happening on campus during the time of the recruit's visit. As with most campuses, athletics events are one of the most popular social outlets that students have at the eight campuses. We firmly believe that it is important that recruits have the opportunity to see all that our campuses have to offer. This doesn't necessarily always involve a Division I athletics event.
Do your Division III sports receive free or reduced cost equipment from suppliers that outfit your Division I programs?
No. In almost all cases, the merchandisers that are affiliated with the eight institutions' Division I sports are sport-specific (for example, Bauer for ice hockey or STX for lacrosse). These suppliers give no benefit to our Division III programs. The Johns Hopkins field hockey team does receive some minor benefits from STX, but not because of STX's affiliation with the lacrosse programs. The president of STX is a Johns Hopkins graduate.
Do you have additional administrative staff because of your Division I sports?
On average, the multi-divisional institutions sponsor 21 programs. We believe that our administrative staffing is appropriate for the size of the programs we operate. While our administrators may have different roles than those in some Division III programs, we do not have any more administrators because we also sponsor Division I programs.
Didn't the presidents survey mailed last April reveal that a majority of the membership supported the elimination of multi-divisional classification?
The eight multi-divisional institutions believe that the survey respondents did not fully understand the issue they were being asked to consider. This document is an effort to increase understanding of the very good reasons why a very few Division III institutions have been granted a waiver and allowed to be multi- divisional and offer athletics grants-in-aid in our Division I sports. Focus groups conducted by the NCAA in April and May indicated that the majority felt it was better to celebrate differences among institutions and conferences within Division III than to try to make rules to bring the institutions even closer together. Furthermore, when asked specifically about multi-divisional classification, many in the focus groups felt that those institutions with established multi-divisional programs should be left alone, but that new grants of multi-divisional status should not be made.
If the Ivy League institutions can compete without scholarships, why can't the multi-divisional institutions?
In most cases, the multi-divisional institutions compete for the same academically high-caliber student-athlete as the schools in the Ivy League. We are not, however, similarly endowed and are not in a position to commit to be need-blind or to meet 100 percent of every admitted student's demonstrated financial need. Our aid packages routinely involve loans and unmet need. Not all our admitted students are aided, even if they have need. Our Division I coaches ensure that needy student-athletes will have at least their need met with athletic grant-in-aid. Athletic grants-in-aid remove uncertainty and allow the eight institutions to be competitive in recruiting.
Additionally, the eight institutions, though all quality colleges and universities, do not have the "brand" reputation of the Ivies. If a student-athlete without need has to choose between a $120,000 tuition bill at one of the private multi-divisional schools, and $120,000 at an Ivy school, they often will choose the Ivy school, based on reputation alone. We cannot compete for that student-athlete without offering an athletic grant-in-aid.
The Ivy League's strong endowments, financial aid policies and reputation make it possible for them to recruit Division I athletes without athletic grants-in-aid. The multi-divisional institutions need athletic grants-in-aid to compete for student-athletes at the Division I level.
Haven't times changed to the point where multi-divisional classification isn't appropriate any longer?
The eight multi-divisional schools have developed their programs and plans in confidence that the NCAA meant what it said in 1983 when it created the exemption for our Division I sports. Over these two decades, we have continued to develop the rich tradition and prominence of the Division I sports on our campuses, in harmony with our thriving Division III sports programs. In some cases, we have made financial commitments to competition venues in our Division I sports, commitments that would be difficult to meet at a lower level of competition.
There remains no data that illustrates we garner a competitive advantage from fielding Division I teams; in fact, there is good data to support the argument that we do not. Our closest athletic rivals support the continuation of the exemption. To the extent that the exemption creates a lack of uniformity across Division III, that lack of uniformity is statistically small and, in practical terms, insignificant. The exemption does little, if anything, to undercut the philosophical underpinnings of Division III. It was granted and continues to exist for good, rational and easily justifiable reasons. There is no compelling reason to repeal it.
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