October 30, 2003
Council Maintains Support of Division III Reform

By Nate Ewell

The NCAA Division III President's Council voted today not to alter its proposed reform package, meaning that the proposal – including a provision that would threaten Division I hockey at Clarkson, Colorado College, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence – will be put to a vote of the full Division III membership in January.

The proposal would eliminate all scholarships at Division III schools. Currently Division III schools that "play up" in Division I in certain sports, such as those four in hockey, are allowed to grant athletic scholarships in those sports. Four other schools across the country would be effected by the proposal: Hartwick (women's water polo), Johns Hopkins (men's and women's lacrosse), Oneonta State (men's soccer) and Rutgers-Newark (men's volleyball).

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Representatives from those schools had been hopeful that the President's Council would ammend this portion of the reform package before it went to the membership for a vote.

"While we are disappointed by the Presidents Council's decision, we remain optimistic that we will prevail in January," said Rensselaer athletic director Ken Ralph in a statement. "We strongly oppose the NCAA proposal because it ignores the outstanding academic tradition of our athletics program here at Rensselaer. Over the next several weeks leading up to the January NCAA Convention we fully intend to work vigorously, in conjunction with the other seven universities, to tell our story of Rensselaer's great hockey tradition. We remain committed to offer hockey at the highest level."

About the Proposal

In question is one element of a broad reform package proposed for Division III: a provision that would prevent any Division III schools from awarding athletic scholarships, even in sports in which they participate at the Division I level. There are eight schools (12 teams) that would be affected by that proposal.

The Schools

Clarkson (men’s and women’s hockey)
Colorado College (men’s hockey and women’s soccer)
Hartwick (women’s water polo)
Johns Hopkins (men’s and women’s lacrosse)
Oneonta State (men’s soccer)
Rensselaer (men’s hockey)
Rutgers-Newark (men’s volleyball)
St. Lawrence (men’s and women’s hockey)

The Timeline

Aug. 7, 2003
The 15-member Division III President’s Council endorsed the reform package

Oct. 30, 2003
Division III President’s Council voted to present the package to the entire Division III membership for vote at the annual convention

Jan. 9-12, 2004
NCAA Convention, Nashville, Tenn.

Aug. 1, 2008
Reform package, if passed, would take effect

What You Can Do

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"We are disappointed that members of the Council did not recognize the intent of a 1982 waiver for eight schools that had strong traditions, pride and competitive rivalries in one or two sports at the Division I level," said Clarkson President Tony Collins. "In good faith we have made long-term investments in facilities and pledged our commitment to our student athletes, coaching staff, and fans. The case made more than 20 years ago, and accepted by the NCAA, remains intact today for Clarkson University. We will now move forward on all fronts with the other seven schools opposing this proposal. We will explore all options available to us and leave no stone unturned to find a solution that is in the best interest of our student-athletes and the University."

The four college hockey schools have combined to make 57 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. At least one of the four participated in every one of the first 17 Frozen Fours.

Schools in the Division I hockey community were not the only ones to respond to today's vote. Johns Hopkins released a statement that read, in part: "Our eight college and universities remain united in the firm belief that enactment of Proposal 2-69 would do considerable harm to our schools. Worse, it would do so without measurably advancing the cause of Division III.

"The presidents, chancellors and athletics directors of the eight institutions intend to spend the time before the NCAA convention in January continuing to raise awareness on this issue among the 424 schools in the division. We are extremely grateful to the many schools and conferences who already have assured us of their support. We believe that, as we speak with more and more Division III members and acquaint them with the facts, we will form a majority that will defeat Proposal 2-69 on the floor of the NCAA Convention."

The President's Council, for its part, voiced its support of the proposal, which is part of an overall reform package for Division III athletics, and stated its intent to "shepherd these reforms to passage," in the words of chair John McCardell, president of Middlebury College.

"Ultimately, we rejected a motion to withdraw the original proposal, and as a result the multidivisional proposal will go before the membership for a vote in January as part of the reform agenda," McCardell said. "We were guided in our deliberations by the recommendation of the Management Council, where these issues received a thorough airing, and also by the responses communicated to us by the membership."

Each element of the reform package will be voted upon separately by the 424 Division III schools at the 2004 NCAA Convention, Jan. 12 in Nashville, Tenn.

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