Reforms are coming to NCAA Division III sports programs aroundthe country, but officials at Simpson – where up to 45 percent ofstudents are athletes – say the changes will have littleaffect.
The recently announced changes include reductions in the lengthsof athletic seasons and improved financial-aid reportingrequirements designed to make sure certain students aren’treceiving scholarships or loans as a result of their athleticabilities.
“It’s about getting back to the value the college encourages byproviding a good education based on values of success, andincluding in that athletics which offers a great basis for learningstrong lessons and values,” said Simpson President R. Kevin LaGree,who served on the NCAA Presidents Council that made these alteringdecisions.
Other changes in Division III rules cover athlete eligibilityand recruiting practices. All of the changes come as Division IIIschools, many of which have large concentrations of athletes inclassrooms, try to re-emphasize the long tradition ofnon-scholarship schools emphasizing academics over athletics.
“The role of Simpson and colleges alike is much different fromthat of Division I athletics,” said Athletic Director JohnSirianni. “We emphasize student-athlete and try to strike a balancebetween the two offering a quality education and a good athleticsituation that is still competitive.”
LaGree said Ivy League schools led the reform movement inDivision III because athletes were becoming segregated from otherstudents and time-consuming practices were taking time fromstudies.
“The discussion of the changes began in 1991, and took some timeto finally get to vote,” said LaGree. “The financial aid changewill probably take another year to come into effect, but I estimatethe rest will take effect sometime this year.”
The major change in Division III sports is a cut in practicetime and non- traditional season competitions, but that won’t haveany impact at Simpson at since nontraditional competition doesn’ttake place.
“The [Iowa Conference] already had these sorts of policies ineffect,” said LaGree, “These changes will bring other states to ourcurrent rules.”