On February 20, 2012, the NCAA released an article discussing consequences for Division III conferences that fail to meet the requirement of seven core members and remain below the minimum requirement after the two-year grace period expires. Specifically, the Division III Membership Committee determined that conferences under those circumstances would lose automatic-qualification privileges to NCAA championships and their conference vote at the NCAA Convention. Conferences failing to meet the minimum membership requirement would also not have access to Division III conference grant funding.
The Division III Membership Committee’s recommendation came as a result of the Division III membership adopting a proposal at the 2012 convention which confirmed the seven core member requirement and two-year grace year period.
In light of this article, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends NCAA member institutions conduct annual discussions (among all significant decision-makers and stakeholders) on the short- and long-term strategic and tactical needs of the athletics department in several areas, including, but not limited to, competitive success and program development. The implementation of any strategies and tactics in the areas of competitive success and program development may involve or require changes in conference membership. Colleges and universities should be ready to make immediate decisions on conference membership that adheres to a strategic plan if another round of conference re-alignment occurs in the next five years.