The NCAA Division III staff has created this bi-weekly communication for the Division III Commissioners Association to provide up-to-date communications on the constantly evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Division III membership. Please share this communication with your conference members.
RECENT GOVERNANCE MEETINGS AND KEY COVID-19 DISCUSSIONS AND OUTCOMES
Championships Committee, August 13
Winter and spring championships – bracket and pool allocation analysis. The committee discussed appropriate levels of sports sponsorship that would be required to conduct winter and spring championships. The committee ultimately arrived at a scale of minimum sport sponsorship that would allow for a meaningful championship experience and determined the following guidelines:
sports with fewer than 50 sponsors require 90% participation; sports with between 51 and 200 sponsors require 70% participation, and sports with more than 200 sponsors require 60% participation. The committee determined that the division’s current access ratio would serve as a guide to establish the appropriate bracket/field size while also considering automatic qualifiers and at-large berths.
Winter and spring championships financial impacts. The committee received a budget update with cost projections for both winter and spring championships, the cost associated with standard championships operating expenses and the budget impact associated with COVID testing. The committee will begin to consider various cost saving measures during its upcoming meetings including the possibility of reductions to field/bracket sizes.
Winter championship dates. The committee had preliminary discussions concerning winter championship dates and whether they will need to be adjusted based on much of the Division III membership stating it will not conduct athletics until the start of the calendar year. Much like the discussions the committee had pertaining to fall championships, the committee will consider all possibilities, including a compressed regular season and whether the championships should be delayed, while prioritizing a meaningful student-athlete experience.
NADIIIAA and D3CA Executive Leadership Virtual Meeting, August 18-19
Meeting highlights. The executive leadership groups of NADIIIAA and the D3CA participated in two days of virtual meetings with NCAA staff. Topics ranged from governance updates, championships, waivers and legislation, Sport Science Institute updates and a Q&A with Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief operating officer. Key highlights included:
The importance of timely, clear, consistent and concise communication from the national office.
A clarification that while the Resocialization Standards, recently were mandated by the BOG if institutions engage in outside competition through Oct. 27, the BOG’s directive can’t override a legal prohibition. (e.g., if a state forbids asymptomatic testing, then an institution should abide by this state regulation).
A clarification that when there are factors that create challenges around the implementation of PCR-based testing strategies, different strategies may need to be considered, and schools are encouraged to collaborate with state and local health officials to determine whether and how to implement specific strategies and which one(s) would be most appropriate for their circumstances.
Continuing to respond to the BOG’s request for each division to provide policies around medical coverage and expenses if a student-athlete were to contract COVID-19 while competing in the Fall segment. [See Administrative Committee section]
The Sept. 14-15 Division III Championships Committee meeting and the Oct. 27 Board of Governors meeting will discuss winter and spring competition and championships. Topics may include information on basketball, winter sport championships, and NCAA return to championship procedures.
From Academic and Membership Affairs, the membership will be receiving additional information regarding interacting with gap-year contact with high school graduates who have committed and deposited as well as current student-athletes who have taken a leave of absence.
The Office of Inclusion, the Sports Science Institute, medical experts and invited membership constituents will participate in a summit, Oct. 5-6, to review the editorial materials and potential policy items around transgender student-athlete participation.
The NCAA has established a COVID-19 Concerns Hotline. The hotline was established to allow college athletes, parents or others to report potential return-to-sport concerns. The Association will notify institution and conference administrators, who will be expected to review and address the concerns. The hotline process follows an existing student-athlete well-being process already established with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Membership Committee, August 20
Sports Sponsorship Waiver Relief. The committee will continue its discussion concerning the most appropriate way to provide sports sponsorship waiver relief for members institutions. Staff will share the latest institution and conference return-to-play information.
Administrative Committee, August 20
Board of Governors Directive. The Administrative Committee reviewed the Board of Governors directive for each division to take action regarding student-athlete well-being issues and a subsequent FAQ issued to help clarify several of the directives.
The Administrative Committee received feedback from members across the division heading into the meeting, including members of the Presidents and Management Councils, the President’s Advisory Group, and the executive committees of the Division III Commissioners Association and the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators. The committee recommends member schools not compete in the fall term to avoid potential increased health and safety risks due to the current COVID-19 environment. Consistent with the Board of Governors, the committee believes it is inappropriate for student-athletes and their families to unknowingly assume
related health care expenses when local health officials apply established contact tracing protocol and identify athletics competition as the source of a student-athlete’s COVID-19 infection.
If schools decide to engage in any outside competition during the fall of 2020, the committee took legislative action, effective immediately, requiring schools to review existing health care cost coverage with each participating student-athlete to help ensure they make an informed decision about participation. Further, schools must inform student-athletes of the risk classification of their sports according to the Resocialization of Sport Guidelines, and provide information about how the institution is complying with the
NCAA Resocialization of Sport: Developing Standards for Fall Competition.
The Administrative Committee also acted on two other relevant directives from the Board of Governors:
The committee adopted noncontroversial legislation, effective immediately, that institutions may not require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of participating in athletics.
It also clarified that for the 2020-21 academic year, all full-time enrolled student-athletes that opt out [i.e., the student-athlete decides not to engage in any activity during or after the first contest], would get a two semester/three quarter extension. [Note: the Division III governance structure has already addressed this issue.]
COVID-19 Playing and Practice Season Internal Working Group
The Sport Science Institute recently sent a memo notify the membership about certain updates to the recently released NCAA’s Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition (Developing Standards). As provided in the Developing Standards document, certain clinical publications identified potential cardiac manifestations related to COVID-19 infection, including some that were identified in individuals with no or mild symptoms. Subsequent to those original publications, additional discussion and case anecdotes related to this topic have emerged and are being explored in more detail by experts in sports medicine and cardiology. This recent activity has prompted updates to the Developing Standards as noted below.
As originally published, the Developing Standards included cardiac and exercise considerations for resumption of activity after COVID-19 infection (Cardiac Considerations). Those Cardiac Considerations referenced additional information and a post-infection management algorithm that had been published on the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine website (AMSSM Algorithm). Both the Cardiac Considerations and AMSSM Algorithm have recently been updated based on emerging cardiac information and related expert and advisory input from a group of experts from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Cardiology, as noted in Developing Standards. Membership is encouraged to carefully review these recent updates as they continue to plan for and implement applicable athletics health and safety protocols on campus. The membership is also reminded of this FAQin support of the Developing Standards document.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND ANTICIPATED DISCUSSIONS
Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee, August 24
Alternative playing seasons model. The committee will review a request to amend the alternative playing seasons model to allow fall sports to participate during the spring in a similar manner with traditional season finals policies and clarifying that all competition (including practice associated with competition) will be completed by May 15, 2021.
Championships Committee, August 25
Winter and spring championships. The Championships Committee will continue discussions on winter and spring championships financial impacts and the winter championship calendar. The committee will also be preparing for a September 14 meeting with sport committee chairs.
Division III Compliance page. (COVID-19 Q&A - last updated July 7, Alternative Playing and Practice Seasons Model Q&A - last updated July 31 and 2020-21 Division III COVID-19 Question and Answer Guide - created August 17)
With every communication, we also anticipate additional questions. Please send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay healthy and safe and thank you for your continued collaboration and leadership.
This email was sent to the NCAA Division III Commissioners Association