By Greg Johnson
The Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet charged the Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee to provide recommendations on ways to improve the two-site preliminary-round qualifying format that was implemented this spring in outdoor track and field.
Cabinet members, who met Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis, reviewed feedback on the two-site preliminary-round format, which included opportunities for improvement, and asked for suggestions on enhancing these events by the cabinet’s next meeting in February 2011.
The cabinet has discussed the format of track and field regionals in recent years, even considering whether to eliminate the qualifying meets, since it costs institutions to send their track and field student-athletes to the regionals.
The two-site preliminary-round qualifying format replaces a four-regional format that existed before.
Among the alternatives moving forward is a plan the cabinet has seen before called a “24/8” model, which is the result of a collaborative effort between the track and field committee and the U.S. Track and Field Coaches and Cross Country Coaches Association. The model would replace the regional qualifying meets and create a one-site championship format that would accommodate 32 participants in individual events and 24 teams for relay events.
The top 24 declared individuals in each individual event would have access to the championships meet. The remaining eight participants would be the next best conference champions decided by a national season-best, descending-order list.
In relays, the top 18 declared teams would have access to the NCAA championship meet, with the next best six conference champions filling out the field. Again, that would be determined by a national season-best, descending-order list.
When the cabinet reviewed this model in June, some members were concerned about not having a more inclusive automatic-qualifying system and that too many conference champions would not have access to the NCAA meet. Others suggested that the new two-region model should be evaluated before eliminating the regionals.
The issue at hand is how the track and field committee and cabinet can best balance access to the championships with appropriate deference to obvious qualifiers and costs to institutions.
While cabinet members are interested in hearing formal recommendations on improvement to the existing qualifying system, they also asked that the committee continue working to develop a schedule for a single-site championship and present that to the cabinet in February 2011.
The cabinet also approved adding the Big West Conference to the list of automatic-qualifying conferences for the 2011 National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship.
The cabinet also approved a play-in game between the fifth- and sixth-ranked conferences (according to the Rating-Percentage Index at the end of the prior year’s season) to gain access into the eight-team championship field.
In team sports with sponsorship at or above 10 percent and below 60 percent (which includes women’s water polo), at least 50 percent of the bracket must be reserved for at-large selections, and no more than 50 percent of the bracket can be available for automatic-qualifying conferences.
The play-in game will be contested the weekend before the championship at a site approved by the Women’s Water Polo Committee, ideally the home site of the institution of the higher-ranked conference. The conference must submit the proposed facility to the committee by December 1, with approval being provided by December 15.
The cabinet also asked that the committees administering the National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship and the National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship review selections to their four-team fields with regard to the automatic-qualification requirements.
The cabinet will consider whether to propose legislation that would allow these sports to award automatic qualification to more than 50 percent of the bracket or whether the bracket shall conform with the current requirements.
Before making that decision, though, the cabinet wants to factor in feedback from each of the committees at its February meeting.
The cabinet reviewed proposed legislation regarding the playing and practice seasons for sand volleyball and voted to oppose a proposal (No. 2009-83) that would establish the maximum dates of competition limit at 18 dates.
Cabinet members reviewed a recommendation from a working group of conference compliance officials that suggested the proposal be modified to allow for a maximum of 16 dates of competition, with no more than 14 dates of competition in the championship segment (spring).
The cabinet agreed that limiting the season to 16 dates of competition was more appropriate; however, members believe an institution should be limited to playing no more than two dates of competition in the nonchampionship segment (fall). The cabinet would support the proposal if the sponsor agrees to modify it.
Members also discussed a recommendation from the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee to eliminate legislation prohibiting microphones from being placed on a team coach or in team huddles and bench areas during NCAA championship competition. Current rules prohibit such practice in all NCAA championships.
The proposal, though, is to give sport committees more flexibility in determining whether “mic-ing” the coaches would add promotional value to the sport and the championship.
The cabinet asked for more information on how such a practice would be implemented before sponsoring legislation. It also wants to hear from student-athletes before formally weighing in with a position.
Members asked the NCAA staff to:
The cabinet supported a request from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to seek adoption of a proposal to eliminate the written-release opportunity available to student-athletes for sickle cell solubility testing. If the Division I Legislative Council adopts the proposal, the effective date would be August 1, 2011.