"If you spit, you sit": That is the message the AMCC will be sending to student-athletes, coaches and officials this spring.
"The research regarding the deleterious effects of tobacco in general, and chewing tobacco specifically, is clear," stated Penn State Altoona Chancellor and AMCC Presidents Council Chair Lori Bechtel-Wherry. "We care about the health and safety of our student athletes, and on behalf of the Presidents Council I respectfully ask all of our fans, coaches, staff, and student-athletes to join us in supporting this important initiative."
The "If you spit, you sit" campaign was introduced several years ago by the NCAA to highlight association rules which ban the use of tobacco products.
NCAA rule 11.1.5 states that "The use of tobacco products is prohibited by all game personnel (e.g., coaches, trainers, managers and game officials) in all sports during practice and competition." Rule 184.108.40.206 states "The use of tobacco products by a student-athlete is prohibited during practice and competition. A student-athlete who uses tobacco products during a practice or competition shall be disqualified for the remainder of that practice or competition." Additional penalties may be imposed within each sport and by the school and conference.
While the use of chewing tobacco can be found in many sports, baseball is recognized as the sport with the highest incidence of coaches, players and officials who chew. Consequently the AMCC has chosen to focus additional resources on baseball, including:
- posting signage about the rule in both home and visiting team dugouts
- providing all teams with a supply of chewing gum or sunflower seeds as an alternative to chewing tobacco
- employing a social media awareness campaign featuring student-athletes from all ten teams
Additionally, the AMCC has encouraged other Division III conferences to join them in this effort. The intent is to connect with as many Division III campuses as possible so that everyone is hearing the same message, whether they are playing at home or on the road. Other leagues joining in the awareness campaign are the North Eastern Athletic Conference, the North Coast Athletic Conference, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Colonial States Athletic Conference and the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Conference.
Take together, the initiative will connect 77 Division III campuses.
"We are thrilled that so many Division III member institutions are joining us in promoting this message," said AMCC Commissioner Donna Ledwin. "This is a serious health issue that has often flown under the radar in many athletic departments. Our presidents and chancellors believe it's time to send a stronger message across the board that chewing tobacco has no place in college athletics."