By Greg Johnson
The Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet at its meeting Sept. 13-14 in Indianapolis reviewed budget requests and prioritized preliminary recommendations for the next budget cycle that begins in 2012.
Cabinet members discussed nearly 30 recommendations from the individual sports committees. Initiatives that increase student-athlete access to NCAA championships received the strongest support.
The cabinet will weigh budget priorities over the next several months before final recommendations are decided by the cabinet’s administrative committee. The Division I Finance Committee will meet in the spring to approve the budget, which then will be forwarded to the Division I Board of Directors and the NCAA Executive Committee.
Among the reasons for supporting bracket expansion were data indicating growth in those sports. For example, the Division I Women’s Lacrosse Committee cited that 12 conferences will be eligible for automatic qualification into the championship by 2013. By NCAA rule, when a sufficient number of conferences reach automatic qualification status, at least 50 percent of the field must be reserved for at-large selections. Sports committees can also provide a play-in opportunity in those instances.
In rowing, 11 conferences sponsor the sport, a number that is expected to remain steady for the foreseeable future.
The requests to increase the travel party sizes at various championships are intended to help decrease the costs to individual schools at these events, particularly the Men’s College World Series, since the length of that event complicates the issue.
The softball request would change the super regional best-of-three format into a three-day event with one game played on each day. Currently, super regionals are two-day events with a doubleheader on the first day, with the “if necessary” game played on the second day.
In addition to reviewing budget items, the cabinet once again examined a request to eliminate the track and field regionals.
This topic has been discussed in recent years due to the costs schools incur by sending their student-athletes to one of the two regional sites.
However, the Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee, along with stakeholders in the sport, have also worked on the issue for several years, and cabinet members believe those efforts have put the championship in a good position moving forward.
Under those circumstances, cabinet members voted to maintain the current process because members believe it maintains significant access for student-athletes and is a fair and consistent way to advance to the national finals.
The cabinet also reviewed legislative proposals in the 2011-12 cycle that are relevant to championships administration and competition. Cabinet members supported:
Proposals the cabinet did not support include: