National Pro Fastpitch Releases Winter Meetings Agenda

NASHVILLE, TN – December 15, 2015
 – The National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) owners and general managers met for the league’s annual Winter Meetings December 3-4 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta. Ga. to set dates and discuss a multitude of policies heading into the 2016 season. Owners and General Managers from all six affiliate teams participating in NPF action in 2016 were represented in the meetings.
“Our owners and general managers did an outstanding job on addressing the issues and topics in such a manner to continue to move the league forward in 2016 and beyond,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “This is the group that should be given the credit for the strides that professional softball continues to make in the sports entertainment arena. Their hard work, consistent dedication and continued commitment are the primary factors in the success the league currently enjoys.”
A mainstay priority on the annual agenda is the regular season competition schedule. The 150-game league schedule was immediately released following the meetings, with location and time details to follow. In addition to the regular season schedule, the NPF also released a new location for the 2016 Championship Series. The Championship Series, which will run August 19-23. will be held at Rhoads Stadium on the campus of the University of Alabama. The event will mark the first time since 2005 that the league’s Championship is played at a university venue.
Below are other developments that emerged as a result of the annual Winter Meetings.

2016 Event Dates Established:
Annual College Draft (Under separate release)
Annual Winter Meeting – October 25-26, 2016

Policy Changes/Adjustments:
• Rulebook and Policies and Procedures Manual must be on site and available as near as the press box. This is the responsibility of the Home Team.
• Game Day Timelines can be flexible regarding which team takes batting practice first, but should be established by the Home Team prior to the beginning of the season
• All scorekeepers will be assigned by the league and paid through the league
• Between inning time guidelines should be reduced to 90 seconds for non-televised games. If visible clock is available in-venue, it may be used. However, a visible clock is not a requirement and in the event a clock is not visible, it is the responsibility of the home plate umpire to inform teams of the timing.
• It is league policy that temporary backstops be eliminated, unless required by the particular venue or television production crew. If backstop is necessary and required, it is the responsibility of the Home Team to inform the Visiting Team in advance.
• Fans and non-participants presence on field and in-dugout is being further examined from a liability standpoint.
• Coaches Acknowledgment Form will have check box added that will better clarify receipt and awareness of policies and rules.
• Additional checklist will be created to better communicate league-mandated items to team staffs, along with deadlines of when items are needed for timely distribution to teams staffs and players.
• Discussion of need for better efficiency and thoroughness in accessing photographs taken by league and team photographers. Reiteration that all team and league photographers must sign the NPF standard agreement and have a complete understanding of arrangements of photograph delivery to appropriate party.
• Reiteration of league requirement for all vendors of NPF league and team merchandise to operate under a league licensing agreement.
• The addition of a category for Designated Player on the All NPF post-season award team. The DP category will replace one of the existing At-Large awards.
• 2016 Draft order changes include more priority towards lower regular season finishers and expansion teams. The Draft order changes in 2016 and again in 2017, neither order of which resembles the 2015 Draft. Specifics of these Draft orders will be detailed in a separate release.
• Discussed improving process of confirming college player interest in NPF Draft and a professional softball career. In order to avoid interfering with college careers and/or eligibility, more research and clarification into the process and NCAA rules is required. This conversation will continue.
• Expansion Draft’s happening in 2016 or beyond will take place after the February 15th Uniform Player Contract expiration date. A selection limit has been implemented limiting drafted players from one team to a maximum of two.
• Wording on regular season tie-breaking procedure will be clarified to represent the original intent of the process in breaking the tie.
• Expanded rules governing Franchise Player Tag to allow teams to trade the tagged player anytime within the restricted period, rather than just through the original contract period.
• Also regarding Franchise Player Tag, if originating team is unable to negotiate a contract with tagged player through the expiration of the tag, and another team desires to contract that player, original team will be compensated with a Draft pick from the contracting team. The exact Draft pick position will be determined by the Commissioner immediately following the placement of the Franchise Player Tag on the particular player. That valuation stays with the player in perpetuity or until signed to a new contract.
• Once confirmed that a player’s contract is being terminated due to player’s intention to retire (regardless of reason), player’s rights remain with the originating team through the duration of the original contract or a minimum of 2 years, whichever is more. If picked up in the second year, an agreed upon Release Fee of three thousand dollars ($3,000).
• Umpire per game Fee increases to $150.
• Umpire payments will be made through the NPF League Office.
• Full specs for hosting televised games will be distributed from the League Office to individual Teams. It is the option of the individual teams to agree to specified requirements in order to host televised games.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN.  The league, created to give elite female fast pitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL).  NPF is the official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fast pitch softball since 2002.
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