Division II members on Saturday approved a trio of proposals that are intended to better assist student-athletes in paying for their college education.
Voting delegates passed the three changes to Division II financial aid legislation – along with 15 other proposals – during the Division II business session at the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
The new financial aid legislation will take effect in August 2018 and will do the following:
- Establish a model where only institutional athletics aid is counted against individual and team equivalency limits.
- Eliminate the ability for schools to issue term-by-term financial aid awards.
- Allow schools to increase a student-athlete’s athletically related financial aid at any time, for any reason.
These changes were born out of a three-year review of the division’s financial aid rules, led by the Division II Legislation Committee. Throughout the year, the first proposal to exempt non-athletics institutional aid from equivalency limits received the most deliberation, a trend that continued on the floor of the business session. Several members rose in opposition to the change, citing concerns about competitive equity between schools with varying degrees of resources. Other members emphasized the financial relief the change could bring to student-athletes who might otherwise have to turn down academic or other forms of institutional aid because of the impact it could have on their individual or team equivalency limits.
“I recently read an article that said the average debt that a student walks away with is up to $30,000,” said Legislation Committee Chair Natasha Oakes, the associate athletics director for compliance and senior woman administrator at Missouri Western State University. “I’m trying to find a way to figure out how to put our students in a situation where they can ‘make it theirs’ and not have to walk away with a big price tag by choosing to come to our institutions.”
Oakes urged the delegates in attendance not to “stick to the status quo” out of fear of change.
The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which issues one vote on each Convention proposal, expressed their support for the change, as well. “College is extremely expensive,” said Taryn Driver, a student and volleyball player at Texas A&M University-Commerce. “The Division II SAAC agrees it is vital to ensure student-athletes have the opportunity to receive financial aid they have earned.”
Independent Medical Care
The division also passed a health and safety proposal that will increase the decision-making authority of medical personnel in college sports. The new legislation, which will take effect in August 2017, will require schools to establish an administrative structure where the primary athletics health care providers (team physicians and athletic trainers) would have unchallengeable authority on medical management and return-to-play decisions. It also will require schools to designate an athletics health care administrator to oversee the school’s administration and delivery of athletics health care and ensure best practices are followed. The proposal received overwhelming support from the Division II membership.
Nonchampionship Segment Activities
Another new piece of legislation that will take effect in August will provide Division II student-athletes additional time off in their nonchampionship segments. The legislative change sets new limits on the amount of time college athletes can spend on countable athletically related activities during the nonchampionship segment while also simplifying the legislation. As time demands on student-athletes continues to be a key topic of discussion across the Association, Division II members saw this legislative change as a step in the right direction.
Division II also will welcome new legislation addressing academic misconduct, hardship waivers, professional team tryouts and more. See the full list of proposals that were adopted here.