For the 2020-21 academic year only, the minimum number of contests required in Division II for sport sponsorship and championships selection, as well as the maximum number of contests and dates of competition allowed, will be smaller than in years past as a result of financial impacts from COVID-19.
The Division II Presidents Council in a teleconference Tuesday voted for reductions in all three areas strictly for the 2020-21 academic year.
The division’s highest governing body voted to reduce the minimum number of contests needed for sport sponsorship and championships selection by 33%, with rowing being the lone exception to the change for championships selection. The council voted for a one-year reduction to the maximum number of contests and dates of competition, as well. These reductions varied by sport, based on results from a survey administered to presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics and conference commissioners. A sport-by-sport look at the updated minimum and maximum contests for the 2020-21 academic year only can be viewed here.
All three reductions stemmed from financial struggles Division II institutions are facing due to the pandemic. Many institutions, per feedback from leadership throughout Division II, will not be able to afford the same level of travel or meet current standards for championships selections or sports sponsorship, even if sports begin as scheduled in the fall term.
In addition, concerns of competitive inequity also have been expressed from across the division if maximum numbers for playing and practice seasons were not adjusted along with reductions to the minimums.
“The financial challenges faced by institutions because of COVID-19 are considerable and, as we prepare for summer and fall, continue to increase,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “The approved reductions strike an important balance of providing schools with scheduling flexibility, maintaining competitive equity within the one-year reductions to minimums and maximums, and continuing to prioritize opportunities for student-athletes to compete in NCAA championships. Periods of national crisis require carefully considered compromise.”
The Presidents Council made the final decision on all three issues after receiving recommendations from the Division II Management Council, which considered feedback from several leadership groups, Division II governance committees and two surveys of the division’s leadership.
In April, the Division II Conference Commissioners Association conducted a survey in which nearly 95% of the division’s athletics directors participated. From the survey, the Division II CCA put forward the initial proposal to reduce minimums and maximums. The proposal was brought to the Division II Championships Committee, Membership Committee, Legislation Committee and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for their discussion and recommendations.
The Presidents Council also considered the results of a Division II membership survey, specific to reducing maximums, that 435 division leaders responded to earlier this week. The survey was taken by 258 athletics directors, 154 presidents and chancellors, and 23 conference commissioners. Roughly 85% of the survey respondents said they supported some form of reduction to the maximum permissible contests for the 2020-21 academic year. The full survey results can be viewed here.
The Presidents Council adopted noncontroversial legislation to implement the various levels of reductions to the maximum number of permissible contests and dates of competition for the 2020-21 academic year only. For noncontroversial legislation to be adopted, a motion must receive at least three-fourths of the vote.
As part of this decision, men’s and women’s basketball teams will not be able to exempt contests as part of a conference challenge event or in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020-21 academic year. Typically, teams can exempt these contests from their maximum contest total.
The Presidents Council voted not to change how discretionary exemptions, such as scrimmages and exhibitions against non-Division II four-year schools, are counted. They will remain exempt against maximum contest totals. The council also decided that no reductions be implemented for maximums for National Collegiate Championship sports, emerging sports and Division II men’s ice hockey for the 2020-21 academic year.
As part of the decision to reduce the maximum number of contests for the 2020-21 academic year, the Presidents Council issued this statement:
“NCAA Division II conferences and institutions have acknowledged through survey feedback on contests reductions that COVID-19 has presented us with financial challenges that we are proactively addressing together. In that spirit, and as a result of the governance structure’s decision to reduce contest maximums, thus affecting current schedules, we strongly encourage all member institutions and conferences to work cooperatively and collegially when adjusting schedules. Please keep in mind the purpose behind these actions is to assist all institutions with short-term financial concerns so that we may emerge stronger as a membership and division.”
Sport-by-sport recommended maximums for the 2020-21 academic year only:
- Baseball: 40.
- Men’s basketball: 22. (Note: Men’s basketball teams may not exempt two contests played as part of a conference challenge event or games played in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020- 21 academic year. Typically, schools can exempt these contests.)
- Women’s basketball: 22. (Note: Women’s basketball teams may not exempt two contests played as part of a conference challenge event or games played in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020-21 academic year. Typically, schools can exempt these contests.)
- Cross country: 6.
- Field hockey: 14.
- Football: 10.
- Men’s golf: 16.
- Women’s golf: 16.
- Men’s lacrosse: 13.
- Women’s lacrosse: 13.
- Women’s rowing: 14.
- Men’s soccer: 14.
- Women’s soccer: 14.
- Softball: 44.
- Swimming and diving: 12.
- Men’s tennis: 17.
- Women’s tennis: 17.
- Indoor track and field: 14.
- Outdoor track and field: 14.
- Women’s volleyball: 20.
- Men’s wrestling: 12.
The Presidents Council voted to reduce the minimum number of contests for championships selection in the 2020-21 academic year by 33%. The council also approved a blanket waiver to reduce the minimum number of contests required for sports sponsorship by 33%.
Women’s rowing is the lone exception to the 33% reduction to minimums for championships selection, which would set their minimums at three contests. Rowing’s minimum requirement instead was decreased from five to four contests. The rationale behind rowing’s exception was that a team could conceivably compete three times in one weekend, as one race equals one contest. The adjusted minimum encourages teams to compete on at least two weekends to be selected for the Division II championship.
The 33% reduction to the minimums for sports sponsorship includes all Division II sports, including National Collegiate Championship sports, emerging sports and Division II men’s ice hockey.