The NCAA Division III Management Council voted in favor of enacting immediate legislation changing preseason football activities to minimize health and safety risks for student-athletes. The press release issued from NCAA quoted Susan Bassett, director of William Smith athletics. Bassett is the NCAA Management Council chair. She said, “The Management Council supported the football preseason model related to heat acclimatization and recovery time based on compelling medical data that shows changes are needed to ensure student-athlete welfare. Our recommendations were made after reviewing feedback from the Division III Football Committee and the membership and are consistent with legislative actions taken during meetings this week by NCAA Divisions I and II.”
The full press release follows:
DECISIONS MADE AT NCAA DIVISION III MANAGEMENT COUNCIL MEETING
INDIANAPOLIS—In its April 14-15 meetings, the NCAA Division III Management Council voted in favor of enacting immediate legislation changing preseason football activities to minimize health and safety risks for student-athletes. The measure will go to the Division III Presidents Council for consideration and ratification at its meeting next week.
The recommended model provides specific guidelines for student-athlete health and safety during preseason practice. These guidelines include the gradual addition of equipment and no more than one on-field practice per day during a five-day acclimatization period. Institutions also may not conduct multiple on-field practice sessions (e.g., two-a-days or three-a-days) on consecutive days. Further, an institution may only conduct single on-field-practice sessions during the six days prior to its first scheduled contest.
“The Management Council supported the football preseason model related to heat acclimatization and recovery time based on compelling medical data that shows changes are needed to ensure student-athlete welfare,” said Susan Bassett, Management Council chair and the director of athletics at William Smith College, Geneva, New York. “Our recommendations were made after reviewing feedback from the Division III Football Committee and the membership and are consistent with legislative actions taken during meetings this week by NCAA Divisions I and II.”
The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports recommended the model to the Management Council. After extensive study and discussion of the scientific data, the Management Council's Playing and Practice Subcommittee concluded that changes to preseason football practices are necessary.
In addition, the Council also endorsed a new method to calculate preseason practice opportunities in the Division III football preseason practice model. The method establishes a 21-consecutive-day preseason period before institutions' first contests. This allows for the five-day acclimatization period, recovery time and also permits a maximum of 26 practice opportunities. Under the previous preseason calculations, institutions were permitted 27 practice opportunities, although the calculation method was different. Under the new model, schools may start practice two days earlier.
The components of the model are:
- Prior to participation in any preseason practice activities, all prospects and student-athletes shall be required to undergo a medical examination administered by a physician.
- Preseason practice shall begin with a five-day acclimatization period for both first-time participants (e.g., freshman and transfers) as well as continuing student-athletes.
- Practice on Sundays is both permitted and counted during the five-day acclimatization period.
- Student-athletes may engage in no more than one on-field practice per day during the five-day aclimization period. First-time football participants and continuing student-athletes shall not be required to practice separately during the five-day acclimatization period.
- During the first two days of the acclimatization period, helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear.
- During the next two days of the acclimatization period, helmets and shoulder pads shall be the only pieces of protective equipment student-athletes may wear.
- During the final day of the acclimatization period, student-athletes may practice in full pads.
- Institutions may not conduct administrative activities (e.g., team pictures, equipment issue, academic orientations, etc.) on any day prior to the start of the five-day acclimatization period. [These obligations should be fulfilled before/after practice during the five-day acclimatization period.] Any necessary conditioning, speed, strength or agility tests shall not be conducted prior to the five-day acclimatization period.
- All student-athletes, including walk-ons who may arrive to preseason practice after the first day of practice, are required to undergo a five-day acclimatization period (e.g., gradual increase in the use of football equipment).
- Subsequent to the five-day period, institutions may begin practicing in full pads. However, an institution may not conduct multiple on-field practice sessions (e.g., two-a-days or three-a-days) on consecutive days (e.g., two-one two-one format).
- Student-athletes shall not engage in more than three hours of on-field practice activities on those days during which one practice is permitted.
- Student-athletes shall not engage in more than five hours of on-field practice activities on those days during which more than one practice is permitted.
- On days that institutions conduct multiple practice sessions, student-athletes must be provided with at least three continuous hours of recovery time between the end of the first practice and the start of the last practice that day. During this time, student-athletes may not attend any meetings or engage in other athletics activities (e.g., weight lifting); however, time spent receiving treatment and eating meals may be included as part of recovery time.
- Walk-through sessions may be incorporated in the preseason practice period after the five-day acclimatization period. A walk-through shall not be considered an on-field activity provided protective equipment is not worn, equipment related to football (e.g., footballs, blocking sleds) is not used and conditioning activities do not occur. Walk-through sessions shall be limited to one hour, and there shall be a minimum of three hours between an on-field practice session and a walk-through session. Finally the walk-through sessions may only occur on days with a single on-field activity session and only after the five-day acclimatization period.
“These changes will directly address issues related to heat acclimatization and adequate recovery time, while creating a minimal impact on existing preseason opportunities and starting dates,” Bassett said.
In other business, the Management Council reviewed results of a survey completed by Division III CEOs as part of the council's continuing discussion of the future of the division. The Management Council is recommending that the Division III Presidents Council forward specific issues highlighted in the survey that merit further review to the appropriate joint subcommittees. The Management Council, in conjunction with the Presidents Council, will review upcoming focus group results and additional membership feedback in preparation for the drafting of legislation at the Councils' summer meetings. The Management Council is considering what, if any, changes should be made to the structure and/or operation of the division, which is the largest in the NCAA structure with 426 active and provisional members.
Other actions taken included:
- Creation of an appeal process for injury hardship cases.
- Addition of a