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NCAA DIII Management Council supports expanding football, team sport brackets

NCAA, Press Release

The NCAA Division III Management Council took action recently to support expanding the football championship bracket from 32 to 40 teams and to change the championship access ratio for all team sports to 1:6.

In addition to the bracket expansion in football, there will also be a single at-large pool for bids, combining the previously used Pools B and C. 

For the championship access ratio expansion for team sports to 1:6, those changes are shown below: 

Sport    Current Bracket Size    Bracket Size with 1:6 Ratio
Baseball    60    64
Men's ice hockey    12    14
Women's ice hockey    11    12
Field hockey    26    28
Men's lacrosse    38    40
Women's lacrosse    46    47
Softball    62    64
Men's volleyball    16    19

Additionally, the council approved the use of the NCAA Power Index for selection of at-large berths to team sports championships. The changes will go into effect starting with 2024 fall championships.

NIL protections

The council approved noncontroversial legislation to establish resources for student-athletes engaging in name, image and likeness activities.

These resources would include voluntary service provider registration for NIL service providers, such as agents or financial advisors. In addition, the NCAA will manage a comprehensive educational program focusing on areas of interest, such as contract best practices and standardized terms, taxes and brand management.

This will go into effect Aug. 1.

Interpretations and Legislation Committee developments

The council, through noncontroversial legislation, incorporated the existing graduate/postbaccalaureate student participation waiver directive into legislation. Specifically, a Division III institution will no longer have to file a waiver for graduates of a non-NCAA Division III institution to participate as graduate or postbaccalaureate students if they meet the following criteria:

• Graduated with an undergraduate degree within four academic years.

• Has seasons of participation remaining, as defined by Division III legislation.

• Had no breaks in their enrollment.

The council also heard updates regarding the Interpretations and Legislation Committee's review and potential proposals regarding the transfer year-in-residence requirement and legislative process. The council expects to hear final recommendations at its summer meeting after the committee has solicited and considered membership feedback.  

Women's wrestling

The council also voted to sponsor 2025 Convention legislation to add women's wrestling as a National Collegiate championship. If adopted, the first championship would be held in winter 2026.

Federated playing rules

In the summer of 2023, Division III formally adopted a new process to consider and adopt federated playing rules. The process was based on three significant points of emphasis:

• The process should include more Division III input.

• The process should encourage common playing rules.

• The process, to the extent possible, should work within the current rules-making framework.

The council agreed to initiate a formal review of the federated playing rules process. The review will determine if the process is operating effectively and achieving the points of emphasis. After soliciting feedback, the council will consider any needed changes at its summer meeting. 

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