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Dr. Richard Rafes, president of East Central University, has joined fellow presidents and chancellors of NCAA Division II universities and signed a pledge to strive to provide a positive game environment at all athletics events on ECU's campus.

The pledge is part of a Division II-wide effort to offer student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans the best game environment possible. The pledge affirms that athletics events should reflect the values of higher education and the mission of each institution. It also affirms that presidents and chancellors are concerned about any uncivil behavior that may occur at athletics contests and will work together to make respectful events the standard of Division II.

"Our institutions are committed to providing a positive and entertaining experience for all those involved," Rafes said. "Although an atmosphere of good sportsmanship is inherent in this, game environment encompasses more than just sportsmanship. It focuses on the entire experience. Positive game environment is something to be taken seriously and this initiative will help our campus continue to provide an encouraging and exciting game atmosphere for the entire community."

Game environment addresses anything from student-athlete, coach and fan behavior to pep bands, healthy concessions and clean venues. The initiative calls for the need for sportsmanship from players and coaches on courts and fields of play and also strives to ensure a family-friendly and lively game atmosphere.

Division II leaders plan to have pledge signatures from presidents and chancellors from all 302 member schools by the end of the year.

"Our member institutions have embraced community engagement on their individual campuses, and a focus on game environment is a natural next step," said Mike Racy, vice president of Division II. We must provide a civil, comfortable, entertaining experience that is in line with the overall higher education experience to ensure that those fans who were welcomed on campuses through community engagement will want to return."

The Division II membership also has created a game environment website which offers a number of resources, video versions of "teachable moments" and a shared-ideas component for best practices among campuses for creating more civil, comfortable and entertaining experiences.

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