D-I Council discusses pandemic’s impact

Press Reports
Posted 4/28/20

The NCAA Division I Council removed a barrier to its consideration of a blanket waiver of Football Bowl Subdivision membership requirements during a meeting Friday, an NCAA press release stated.

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D-I Council discusses pandemic’s impact

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The NCAA Division I Council removed a barrier to its consideration of a blanket waiver of Football Bowl Subdivision membership requirements during a meeting Friday, an NCAA press release stated.

The issue was discussed as a result of a request made by most of the Division I conferences to consider providing a blanket waiver for all D-I members of several legislative requirements. The request asked for a blanket waiver for a period of at least two years to allow schools to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

According to the press release, several legislative changes will be considered for blanket waivers. The Council indicated that this should not include sport sponsorship minimums. Schools may still request sport sponsorship requirement waivers on an individual basis.

“Higher education is facing unique challenges, and the Division I leadership believes it’s appropriate to examine areas in which rules can be relaxed or amended to provide flexibility for schools and conferences,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We will prioritize student-athlete well-being and opportunities balanced with reducing costs associated with administering college sports, but a blanket waiver of sport sponsorship requirements is not in keeping with our values and will not be considered.”

Other elements of the waiver request, such as scheduling and summer access requirements, will be considered over the next few weeks.

The Council provided feedback on draft principles that could guide the conversation about flexibility in legislative requirements moving forward, and the Division I Board of Directors will discuss the principles at their next meeting.

The majority of the Council’s discussion focused on the pandemic’s impact on student-athletes, schools and conferences. They announced a number of decisions regarding additional educational opportunities for grad transfers as well as underclassmen transfers.

According to the press release, student-athletes who transfer after graduating will be allowed to pursue additional educational opportunities at their second school, the Council decided.

The Council adopted legislation to allow graduate transfers to seek a second undergraduate degree or enroll in coursework that could lead to another degree after they transfer.

The change, which originated with the Committee on Academics, provides graduate transfer student-athletes the same academic opportunities they would have if they stayed at their original school. Current rules require graduate transfer student-athletes to pursue a graduate degree, which has caused some tension between various academic departments and athletics departments.

The academic requirements were voted on after the Council Coordination Committee tabled most legislation in order to give members time to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislative Committee recommended that the remaining legislation remain tabled until after the Council’s June meeting.

The Council also discussed recommendations from the Transfer Waiver Working Group, which has recommended that waiver guidelines be changed to allow first-time four-year transfers in all sports the ability to compete immediately. While the group didn’t take a vote on the recommendations, it provided valuable feedback with regard to timing and uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and could vote on the guidelines changes next month. It also recommended the Division I Board of Directors lift the moratorium it placed on transfer legislation last fall in order for the Council to vote on the legislative concept in January 2021.

The Council had robust discussions about proposed changes to name, image and likeness rules and the timeline for a return to sports. The group and other governance bodies within Division I will continue to discuss all these issues over the coming weeks.

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