NCAA committee recommends slashing both spring, fall college soccer seasons, banning international tours
Earlier this fall during an interview with Potomac Soccer Wire, University of Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski, one of the college game’s most successful and influential coaches, expressed optimism about ongoing efforts to lengthen the NCAA soccer calendar with an eye towards improved player development.
“I think if you want to be a good player you need to be playing year-round and working on your game,” said Cirovski. “We’re always looking for ways to expand the college season.”
It seems that view is not shared by the NCAA Resource Allocation Work Group, the influential committee which recently approved a proposed set of sweeping changes to the governing body’s rules regarding offseason activities for men’s and women’s soccer, along with a host of other college sports, especially on the women’s side.
The work group recommended the elimination of “non-championship season” competition – meaning the spring season – and the reduction of “championship season” competition by 10 percent, shortening an already jam-packed fall season. It also called for the elimination of international tours, which have become a well-loved facet of offseason life for college programs at all levels and are usually paid for by team fundraisers and players themselves.
The decision, supposedly prompted by academic concerns but widely perceived to be driven by the interests of the “cash cow” sports of football and men’s basketball, has stunned and dismayed coaches and players throughout the nation.
“The spring games are critical,” noted University of Utah women’s soccer coach Rich Manning on his twitter feed. “Who would want to run, lift and train for 6 months a year with no games. And when you consider the NCAA doesn’t allow players to play on outside teams, it’s almost a death sentence to anyone getting better from ages 18-22.
“I hope they realize these changes make NCAA soccer a de facto rec league.”
Rob Kehoe, Collegiate Programs Director at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is one of many within the soccer community taking action to fight these recommendations via a lobbying push aimed at NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Directors. But he also responded to the developments with some strong words to Examiner correspondent L.E. Eisenmenger.
“If you have players that have eight months without competition opportunities, what happens to their discipline?” said Kehoe to Eisenmenger. “In a campus situation, they’re going to be bored and involved with the scourge of the college campus, which is substance abuse and relationship abuse issues. The sport serves as a deterrent from being involved in things that are irresponsible, illegal activities that are very prevalent on college campuses.
“These kids aren’t going to go to the library more. Why would they? They already have good grades.”