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Enhancements at Division I championships scheduled

Improved award ceremonies and gathering places for student-athletes’ families planned

Enhancements to Division I championships to improve the experience for student-athletes and their families will start being implemented during the 2016-17 academic year.

The changes were presented to the NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee as an update from its working group for championships enhancements during its meeting last week in Indianapolis. The changes are part of strategic initiatives for the future.

Among the immediate enhancements that will be implemented this year are improved awards ceremonies and gathering or meeting areas for families at the championships’ final sites. NCAA staff informed oversight committee members that plans for those enhancements are in progress and will be reviewed in January for potential implementation at winter and spring championships sites.

The oversight committee, which met Oct. 3-4 in Indianapolis, established the working group to review the championships program and identify long-term improvements designed to protect the integrity of championship events, enhance student-athletes’ experiences and demonstrate fiscal responsibility.

One of the ideas discussed centered on the best ways to incorporate online video streaming to promote championships, increase exposure and improve the student-athlete experience.

The oversight committee supported the following phased-in approach to streaming future Division I championships:

  • For 2016-17, all host sites that stream an event during the regular season will also stream all championships games they host.
  • For 2017-18, the oversight committee will identify a select group of sports for which streaming will be mandatory.
  • The oversight committee will define the minimum standards for each sport with regard to streaming.
  • The oversight committee will also identify other minimum standards (live statistics, video highlights packages, etc.) in sports for which streaming is less viable.

Men’s and women’s golf

The oversight committee approved moving the championships selection announcement for both the Division I Men’s Golf Championships and the Division I Women’s Golf Championships one day earlier, starting in 2018.

The modification was made to provide additional time for teams to arrange travel to NCAA regional sites.

In another item on the agenda, the oversight committee tabled a proposal that would allow substitutions in the Division I Men’s Golf Championships.

While the oversight committee received some support for the substitution concept in match-play competitions, it didn’t support substitutions in the stroke-play portion of the championships.

The oversight committee referred the proposal back to the Division I Men’s Golf Committee, noting that it still had an opportunity to submit a recommendation as early as January and still leave time for possible action that could go into effect for the 2017 championships.

In women’s golf, the oversight committee did not support a change to the selection criteria that would have required teams to have a .500 or better record against Division I opponents to be considered for an at-large team selection. Oversight committee members were concerned the change could negatively impact scheduling by potentially weakening, rather than strengthening, tournament fields and in turn hinder the sport rather than promote its growth.

Women’s gymnastics

Oversight committee members approved a process that will determine regional sites for unseeded teams (19-36) by geography rather than the current process of assigning them in pods. The action more closely aligns the bracketing principles in women’s gymnastics with those applied in other sports.

Schools pay for their travel to the regional, so the committee felt keeping teams close to home can help with travel expenses while maintaining the integrity of the bracket.

Bowling

To accommodate increased sponsorship of the sport, the oversight committee approved the implementation of automatic qualification for the 2018 National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship using a play-in format.

Committee members also approved a format change in the championship, which will also become effective in 2018. The proposal removes all qualifying rounds and instead will require all teams to compete in best-of-three matches using specified formats (five-person team matches, baker total pinfall, baker match play).

However, the National Collegiate Women’s Bowling Championship finals will remain a best-of-seven baker match-play format.

Men’s and women’s tennis

The oversight committee reviewed an informational item regarding the tennis committee’s desire to seek feedback on the concept of moving the Division I men’s and women’s individual singles and doubles championships to the fall while keeping the team championships in the spring. The tennis committee would like to seek feedback from members on the concept.

Oversight committee members did not take action on the concept but encouraged the Division I Men’s Tennis Committee and the Division I Women’s Tennis Committee to focus more on the team portion of the championship and to consider adjustment recommendations by January. 

Skiing

The oversight committee supported a legislative request that would change competition limits in skiing from 16 dates of competition to 32 contests for teams and individuals.  The committee felt the current scheduling legislation is unnecessarily complicated due to an exemption that allows multiday events, which allows teams to schedule days of competition beyond the current limit. The Division I Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal in April.

However, the oversight committee decided not to approve a recommendation to adjust the coaching limits to allow for three men’s coaches and three women’s coaches, as opposed to the current two coaches for each gender. The recommendation was made to accommodate distinct differences within Alpine and Nordic programs.

Oversight committee members also reviewed a possible change to the championship format. The concept would add a sprint race to the Nordic program and a dual slalom to the Alpine program, making the championship a six-event format. The championship is currently a four-event format.

Although the skiing committee proposed the adjustment during its June in-person meeting, it recently determined that discussions among coaches were still needed.  As a result, the Competition Oversight Committee referred the matter back to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Skiing Committee for further review.

Men’s and women’s track and field

The oversight committee decided not to support a recommendation that would allow the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association to present its All-America awards in conjunction with the NCAA championships awards.

The committee felt that, to remain consistent with other NCAA championships, it would be best for the sport to keep the awards announcements separate.