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Changes to the NCAA Season?
Topic Started: Jul 28 2014, 02:48 PM (1,174 Views)
raconteur
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A fascinating piece on a proposal to change the NCAA season, makes sense to me but will it be adopted? shelsoccer is the best situated among us to analyze this proposal and its chances of being approved.

Here is what is being proposed,

Quote:
 
Under a proposal formulated by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the number of official team days would grow to 144 from 132. Teams would open training camp in late August, hold two friendlies, then play 13 matches between mid-September and the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Currently, some teams play two friendlies and as many as 24 games between late August and the holiday.)

From late November until late February, teams would go on winter break, restricted to eight hour-long training sessions. Spring training camp would begin in late February and include one friendly. The season would resume in mid-March and include nine regular season matches, plus conference and NCAA tournament games.


Competition from MLS academy and reserve teams and the fact the title game is often played in freezing conditions before small crowds are the primary reasons cited for expanding the calendar.

I like this proposal and hope it gets passed.
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shelsoccer
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The idea of a split-season has been discussed in collegiate coaching circles for at least 15 years. Here are the hurdles:

1. The idea has had consensus, but nowhere near unanimous, support from coaches.

2. For many smaller schools, there is a facility issue. The soccer team in the fall and the lacrosse team in the spring often share the same field. (I should make that teams, since we're talking about men's and women's teams in both sports.)

3. The NSCAA can propose all it wants but has almost no influence on NCAA legislation. To even get this legislation considered by the NCAA, the NSCAA needs schools/conferences to sponsor it. It used to be you needed six schools/conferences. I'm not sure if that still applies.

4. If the NSCAA could get six sponsors -- or whatever is required now -- means it'll have to convince a majority of ADs, school presidents and conference commissioners to vote in favor. There has been absolutely no sentiment among the power brokers of college athletics to expand playing/practice seasons, particularly in the so-called Olympic sports. The trend has been to reduce seasons (i.e., the 20-hour-per-week practice rule).

5. Irregardless of what the landscape of college athletics has been since this concept was first floated, the landscape is about to change dramatically. You're about to see the approx. 65 schools of the five power conferences (Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12) gain autonomy under a loose NCAA umbrella. Even with their massive TV revenues, those 65 schools are going to find it difficult to afford the "full cost of attendance" (i.e., scholarships + everything else a typical college student needs), expanded training table meals, expanded health care coverage, limited trips home, etc. -- all of which they're lobbying for.

When they get that freedom -- and they will -- while still engaging in the arms race of better facilities, they'll see that TV revenue chewed up. Their solution? Cut Olympic sports. The pressure of Title IX has already led to the near destruction of collegiate wrestling, men's tennis, men's gymnastics and other sports. I think about 20 Div. I men's soccer programs have been dropped since the early '90s. There have been baseball programs dropped and even football at some schools.

The NCAA currently has a rule mandating how many sports a school must sponsor to be in Div. I. I can't remember what that number is. However, I'm willing to bet the soon-to-be-autonomous power conferences will move quickly to reduce that number. Soccer programs, along with others, will be sacrificed.

I suppose it could be argued that schools where soccer is important the program would survive and maybe adopt a split-season. The question then will become how many of those schools will there be? How difficult and expensive will it be to schedule? How long will those schools be willing to shoulder that expense, particularly when there's a clear, non-collegiate alternative in the sport?
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shelsoccer
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Let me add that I find the "support" from MLS and USSF hypocritical. Both are trying to play both sides of the fence. They recognize they get good, solid pro players and even World Cup players out of the collegiate system. Yet these are the same organizations that have set up the Bradenton residency program, academy programs and Generation adidas.

In my 17 years as head of the NSCAA and 14 years on the board of the USSF, I saw the disparagement of college soccer first-hand. I remember when one USSF board member introduced himself and said, "Your the college guy, right?" His tone was not positive. I pointed out that college coaches only make up about 20% of the NSCAA membership, but that didn't change the view.
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autogol
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Great insight shelsoccer, many thanks for providing it.

So it seems like we are discussing in the Brazil reform thread, that an institutionalized system will be very hard to overturn even with such a reasonable proposal as this one from the NSCAA.
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shelsoccer
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I wouldn't compare the NCAA to the CBF, autogol. The CBF governs one sport. The NCAA governs multiple. You can get changes in the NCAA if you're football, men's basketball and, to a degree, women's basketball. It's pretty tough for other sports.
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Velvet Hammer
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Wow did not know we had such an insider amongst us. Great analysis shelsoccer. My question is do you think Oliver Luck might have the gravitas to influence some of the movers and shakers within NCAA to adopt this proposed split season?
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shelsoccer
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Luck can get West Virginia as a sponsor of any legislation, but I do not think he has the pull to get it through the NCAA system. Athletic directors are no longer the major players. Conference commissioners and school presidents call the shots.
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Martin
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shel's posts got me to look at NCAA conference realignment, as I no longer pay that much attention to college sports so I was shocked to see Maryland and Rutgers are now part of the Big Ten Conference (a 14 school member grouping now), West Virginia is now part of the Big 12 (a conference of < 12 schools) while Syracuse is now part of the Atlantic Coast Conference! Wow, what changes, no wonder shel writes about the influence conference commissioners now have with these money influenced moves.

I don't have the knowledge of the politics behind the NCAA but trust shel's judgment on the matter and his pessimism about this proposed split season ever being enacted even if from a pure soccer sense it does make sense.
Club Sportivo Desamparados
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shelsoccer
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Yeah, the Big 10 now has 14 members and the Big 12 has 10. Go figure. We're probably headed towards the day when there will be just four major conferences of 16 teams each.

It should be noted that only the ACC of the current five power conferences has a significant majority of its members sponsoring varsity men's soccer. The Big 10 has eight men's soccer programs out of 14 schools; the Pac-12 has five; the SEC has only has two, and the Big 12 has a grand total of one (newcomer West Virginia). Only the ACC and the Big 10 have enough soccer-playing institutions to stage a conference championship solely of its members. The Pac-12 jerry rigs one by accepting schools that have men's programs like San Diego State as associate members for men's soccer only. The SEC and Big 12 don't bother with men's soccer competition/championships.

So, ask yourself how these five power conferences are going to view men's soccer when they get the autonomy they want?
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Yogi
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So, ask yourself how these five power conferences are going to view men's soccer when they get the autonomy they want?


shelsoccer bringing realism to this discussion on the split season proposal.

Sounds like this issue will be a non starter.
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shelsoccer
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While I seriously doubt it'll go anywhere, I can see where the NSCAA is coming from or, more particularly, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski who is the architect of this.

Sasho is smart, has vision and is a passionate advocate of college soccer. I'm speculating -- and it's just that (I have no inside knowledge) -- that Sasho sees the handwriting on the wall. He'll try to play on the growing popularity of the sport and this year's World Cup in the US to better position the sport for the changes that are coming.

However, he's running the risk of advocating a proposal that will be seen as too radical for the powers that be to consider seriously, especially when those powers only really care about football and to a lesser degree basketball.
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Johnbuildr
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But, Shel, so the vast majority of college soccer schools/programs reside outside the power conferences? Even if all the big schools dropped soccer, the college sport would presumably go on. In fact, maybe it would be better if the big schools drop it if they don't care about the sport or positive change for it anyway? then the remainaing schools could get some change for their sport.

Just random thoughts....
Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum



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shelsoccer
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Oh, men's college soccer isn't going to disappear. Programs at the Creightons and Marquettes of the world will survive. So will some from the major power conferences, but programs in those conferences like Kentucky, S. Carolina, Oregon State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to name a few are going to be in real jeopardy. Those are the types of schools that are going to be stretched to pay the full cost of attendance, etc., that the big boys want. Yet, they'll want to remain in the big-boy club for football and basketball, so they'll start cutting Olympic sports.

If I was Sasho and the NSCAA, I'd be looking to circle the wagons rather than trying to convince the NSCAA to "expand" the sport, no matter how attractive their proposal is for the sport. I'd be looking at replicating the model of collegiate ice hockey where the conferences have no resemblance to the main conference their other sports are in, but each of those schools are commitment to fielding top-notch hockey programs.
In college hockey, you have schools like Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, North Dakota and Ferris State playing in the same conference(s) with the likes of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame.
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vince stravino
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Hockey, however, is a revenue producing sport. Soccer ain't.
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shelsoccer
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Hockey is revenue-producing for some schools, not most. There are a few soccer progams -- less than hockey -- that also are revenue-producing. However, any definition of revenue-producing depends on how you want to cook the books. Are you including the cost of scholarships towards the bottom line? Are you including deferred payments on facilities? Are you including student fees that go to the athletic department at many schools?

Hockey is inherently a more expensive sport (i.e., cost of facility construction and maintenance, cost of equipment) than soccer. In NCAA parlance, neither is considered a revenue-producing sport.
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