Protects historic sports programs at eight schools
NCAA Division III colleges and universities today overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to strip eight schools, including The Johns Hopkins University, of the right to award athletic grants-in-aid in sports in which they have traditionally competed on the Division I level.
The Division III membership, on the last day of the 2004 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tenn., voted 296-106 with 17 abstentions to support an amendment proposed by the eight schools. The amended proposal then passed 304-89 with 18 abstentions.
As passed, the amended version of Proposal 65 continues a waiver, first granted in 1983, that allows the eight to provide athletic financial aid in their traditional Division I sports. It closes the door, however, on any future growth in the number of Division III schools that offer athletic aid in a Division I sport.
"The compromise amendment adopted by Division III today recognizes that our eight schools have long traditions of competition and success at the highest level, traditions that have for decades helped to define their spirit and culture," said William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins, who attended the convention and spoke during the two days of debate.
"We are grateful to our Division III colleagues for today reaffirming the division's previous votes and longstanding approach to this issue," Brody said.
The original version of Proposal 65 was sent to the convention by the Division III Presidents Council. It was part of a package of nine proposals that the council said was intended to align the division's practices with its athletic philosophy.
Had the original Proposal 65 passed, Johns Hopkins, which competes in Division I in both men's and women's lacrosse, would have been forced either to give up athletic grants-in-aid in those sports or leave Division III.
"Though as a university, we are committed to Division III and the principle of need-based financial aid, it would have been unthinkable for Johns Hopkins to give up national-level competition in a sport as important as lacrosse is to our students, alumni and community," Brody said. Johns Hopkins first competed in men's lacrosse in 1883, and has won or shared 42 national titles in the sport, 35 of them before the NCAA even sponsored lacrosse championships.
"Our sincere thanks go to the many presidents and athletics directors who supported us today," Johns Hopkins Athletics Director Thomas Calder said. "They clearly understand that, while our eight schools support the Division III philosophy permitting only need-based aid, ours is a special case deserving of a waiver from the general rule. They also understand that, while repealing the waiver would have seriously damaged us and the other seven schools, retaining it does no harm to the division or its membership."
Besides the Johns Hopkins lacrosse teams, the teams that would have been affected by the original proposal were men's and women's ice hockey at Clarkson University, men's ice hockey and women's soccer at Colorado College, men's soccer and women's water polo at Hartwick College, men's soccer at the College at Oneonta, men's ice hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, men's volleyball at Rutgers University-Newark and men's and women's ice hockey at St. Lawrence University. Colorado College, Hartwick and RPI have all won national titles, Clarkson has the highest winning percentage in the history of Division I men's ice hockey and all eight schools have a legacy of successful competition at the national level.
As amended and passed, Proposal 65 allows schools with the waiver to elevate a second sport to Division I status with grants-in-aid if necessary to maintain compliance with Title IX gender equity requirements. That provision does not affect Johns Hopkins, which has competed in Division I women's lacrosse since 1999.
Note: More information about Proposal 65 and Proposal 65-1 is online at www.jhu.edu/news/univ03/dec03/pdf/ncaaproposal65.pdf.
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