Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NCAA Division I Cabinet Tables Proposed Changes to NCAA Tennis Championships

For the second time since 2012, the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Cabinet has rejected the changes to the Division I Tennis Championships proposed by the Division I Tennis Committee.  The result of the Cabinet meeting, held over the past two days in Indianapolis, was announced late this afternoon via the tweet above.  Although there has been no further explanation by the NCAA or the ITA (the link in the tweet goes back to an August NCAA article on the proposed changes) as to what this means going forward, it is logical to assume this sends the ITA back to the drawing board.

I have a message in to the ITA's David Benjamin, and when I hear back from him or find more information, I will post it.  I have heard from several coaches on the forefront of the opposition to the ITA's operating committee's decision to endorse no-ad and clinch-clinch and they confirmed the tabling the NCAA twitter account announced.

When the NCAA cabinet rejected the recommendations of the Division I Tennis Committee back in 2012 (with a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set for singles), recommendations that were not supported by the ITA, the result was no significant changes other than tiebreakers at 7-all in doubles in 2013, and the experimental formats conducted by the ITA in the first few weeks of 2014, culminating in the National Team Indoor Championships. Teams then went back to the standard format for the remainder of 2014, including the NCAA championships.

I have heard that a hybrid simultaneous format--two doubles, each counting for a point, and three singles, each counting for a point, played at the same time, with the first team to three points winning the match--has garnered some support, and I would like to see a more detailed presentation on that format's pros and cons. It seems obvious that it would elevate the status of doubles and also level the playing field, with depth being much less important than it is now.  It also would give fewer players the opportunity to play singles, unless crossover between singles and doubles was required from everyone on the team.

Again, I am not advocating format change, as I like the current format, but if Division I tennis is determined to make a change, I prefer it find a way to continue to use advantage scoring.

Last week, I spoke to all 16 of the participants at the American Collegiate Invitational regarding no-ad scoring, and will have quotes from all of them in a future post.  NCAA champion Danielle Collins of Virginia was probably the most vehement in her opposition to no-ad (Kristie Ahn was a close second).

"It's a shame that a bunch of people, who are on a committee, get to decide these things and don't listen to the opinions and the views of the players. It's not fair to us." Collins told me. "It's just really unfortunate that they made this decision. I think that it's a big mistake. I'm really disappointed with their decision and how they decided on it. It's just embarrassing for the sport, it really is."

Thanks to a reader, who sent me the entire 320 page document used at the Cabinet meeting, the excerpts regarding tennis are below:

Nonlegislative Items
a. Dual Match Format for Team Championships.
(1) Recommendation. That the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet support the following changes for the team championships:
(a) No-ad scoring in singles and doubles (i.e., competitors can win by one point instead of two);
(b) Three doubles matches played with each match consisting of one set to six games, with a tie-break at six-games-all, followed (after a 10- minute intermission) by six singles matches, each match best-of-three sets, with tie-break at six-games-all; and
(c) No warm-up with opponents.
(2) Effective Date 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Team Championships.
(3) Rationale. Under the current format, the matches are regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles, followed by six singles matches, played in best-of-three sets. Regular scoring is used and a seven-point tiebreak is played at eight-games-all in doubles and at six-games-all in singles.
Currently, the team championships use a clinch/clinch format. The winner of two out of three doubles matches wins the doubles point. The winner of four points total, doubles and singles combined, wins the match. The doubles matches are ended as soon as one team wins the doubles point. The singles matches are ended as soon as one team wins the match. Even with the clinch/clinch format and this past championships’ change to a tie-break at seven-games-all in doubles, some matches last five hours or more. The committee feels change is necessary to protect student-athlete well-being and to make the game more exciting and fan-friendly.

Over the past two years, the committee collaborated with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) to involve college coaches, administrators and other experts in the field to research, experiment, discuss and vet a new meet format. The ITA is adopting these format changes, including the clinch/clinch format, for regular-season collegiate matches.
(4) Estimated Budget Impact. None.
(5) Student-Athlete Impact. Shorter matches will have a positive impact on student-athlete well-being. The typical dual match runs nearly three and a half hours and upward to six hours. For those teams advancing, shorter matches extend student-athlete rest time between competitions.

Match Format for Singles and Doubles Championships.
(1) Recommendation. That the cabinet support the following format changes for the singles and doubles championships:
(a) No-ad scoring in both the singles and doubles championships; and
(b) In the doubles championships, playing best-of-three sets, with a match tie-break in lieu of a third set.
(2) Effective Date. Immediate.
(3) Rationale. The ITA is making these changes for regular-season competitions and asked the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Committee to support this format for the championships. The ITA and USTA experimented with different formats this past year, and in working with the coaching body felt that the tiebreaker at seven-all was good for the collegiate game. The committee agreed with the ITA’s assessment, as it would enhance the student- athlete experience by addressing the sometimes excessive length of the collegiate match. In some instances, this format change would shorten matches.
(4) Estimated Budget Impact. None.
(5) Student-Athlete Impact. The potential for student-athletes to have a shorter match positively impacts their well-being. Shorter matches extend rest time between competitions, particularly for those student-athletes who participate in both the singles and doubles championships, which run concurrently.
Committee Chair.
(1) Recommendation. That the cabinet support Tad Berkowitz, head men’s tennis coach at the University of Arizona, as committee chair.
(2) Effective Date. September 1, 2014.
(3) Rationale. Mr. Berkowitz will replace D.J. Gurule, whose term as chair will expire September 1, 2014. Mr. Berkowitz is currently serving as the men’s subcommittee chair and accepts the nomination. The administrative nominee on the men’s subcommittee declined the nomination. The committee chair is selected from the subcommittees in alternating years.
(4) Estimated Budget Impact. None.
(5) Student-Athlete Impact. None.
d. Automatic Qualification (AQ).
(1) Recommendation. That the following conferences receive automatic bids for 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships (32 conferences for the women’s championships and 31 for the men’s): America East Conference, American Athletic Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Atlantic Sun Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference, Big East Conference, Big Sky Conference, Big South Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big West Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, Conference USA, Horizon League, The Ivy League, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Mountain West Conference, Northeast Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Pac-12 Conference, Patriot League, Southeastern Conference, Southern Conference, Southland Conference (women only), Southwestern Athletic Conference, The Summit League, Sun Belt Conference, West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference.
Note: The Southland Conference requested a waiver for its men’s program after having exhausted its grace period. As a result of recent conference realignments, the conference lost an active member that would have ensured eligibility for an AQ in 2015. In its request, the conference asks permission to include a reclassifying member to meet the minimum requirements.
(2) Effective Date. September 1, 2014.
(3) Rationale. All eligible conferences are being recommended with the exception of the Southland Conference’s men, pending waiver resolution.
(4) Estimated Budget Impact. None.
(5) Student-Athlete Impact. None.
1. Review Agenda and Meeting Schedule. The committee reviewed the agenda and meeting schedule and made no adjustments.
2. Announcements. Announcements were made and the committee took no action.
3. Review/Approve Minutes from Previous Meeting. The committee reviewed and
approved the minutes from the 2013 annual meeting.
4. Review of Championships/Sports Management Cabinet Actions. The committee reviewed cabinet items from the past year and took no action.
5. Update on Sports Committee, Coaches Association and Championships/Sports Management Cabinet.
a. ITA/USTA Issues. The committee met with representatives from the ITA and USTA and discussed various topics. The committee will continue to work closely with these two entities to review the current collegiate championship model. The groups will share information from their constituents to further the discussions on the national championship format. The committee voted to recommend adopting the new ITA dual-match format for championships competition (see Nonlegislative Action Item 2a).
b. Committee Composition/Regional Alignment. The committee elected Mr. Berkowitz as chair, pending cabinet approval because he is a coach. Laura Ludwick White, Drexel University, was elected as women’s subcommittee chair. Additionally, the committee directed staff to prepare a proposal for new regional alignment to keep conference members within the same region (see Nonlegislative Action Item 2c).
c. 2015 Meeting Dates. The 2015 annual meeting will be held July 14-16 in Indianapolis.
6. Review of 2014 Championships.
a. Brackets. The committee reviewed the brackets and took no action but noted the times used this year should continue to be used at future championships.
b. Evaluations. The committee reviewed the evaluations from participants and site representatives and noted the need for site specificity for preliminary rounds. The committee directed staff to work with the finals site host to set up specific community outreach/service activities for the student-athletes.
c. First and Second Rounds. The committee discussed appointing site representatives and will ask veteran site representatives to help create a best-practices document. The committee also noted the administrative teleconference with first-round participants, hosts and site representatives should be moderated by the teleconference provider to minimize noise interference.
d. Finals Site.
(1) Practice Format. The committee noted the practice format worked well and should be continued for future championships. The committee noted that practice under lights will be permitted only for the gender playing the first day of competition.
(2) Student-Athlete Hospitality Room. The committee was pleased with the variety of foods and beverages provided at the student-athlete hospitality room.
(3) Administrative Meeting. The committee reviewed the agenda and format for the administrative meeting and took no action.
(4) Banquet and Social Events. The committee reviewed the current banquet format and determined that a less-formal event entitled “celebration” or “welcome” would be appropriate. The committee also directed staff to investigate locations for social events for 2015 in Waco, Texas.
(5) ITA Meetings and Events. The committee asked that NCAA agenda items continue to be addressed at the beginning of the ITA Annex Meeting on the day of the team championships.
(6) Hotels. The committee reviewed the hotels used at the championships and took no action.
(7) Credentials. The committee asked that a credential type for non-competing coaches be added.
(8) Officials. The committee praised the high quality of the officiating and noted that the officials were very flexible, particularly when inclement weather forced matches to be moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology. The committee also approved Carole Cox as co-meet referee, with Anthony Montero continuing as the co-meet referee, and Richard Rogers serving as
deputy meet referee. There no will longer be specific designations for men’s or women’s meet referees.
(9) Inclement-Weather Plans. The committee noted the need for a minimum of six indoor courts in the event of inclement weather.
(10) Administrative Meeting Agenda. The committee noted that requiring coaches to submit their lineups prior to the administrative meetings was beneficial.
(11) Tournament Stringer. The committee thought the setup for the tournament stringer at the University of Georgia worked well.
(12) All-Tournament Team Selection Process. The committee reviewed the all- tournament selection procedures and agreed to continue having the selection meeting on site at future championships.
(13) Awards Ceremonies. The committee noted the need to remind coaches in advance that they will have an opportunity to speak at the awards ceremonies.
(14) Use of Ball Runners. The committee liked the use of the net runners at this year’s championships.
(15) Webcasting Minimums. The committee reviewed and directed staff to work with Turner to determine the feasibility of covering all courts simultaneously, as the host did this year.
(16) Misconduct Issues. The committee commended the meet referees’ handling of potentially volatile situations.
7. Discussion of Action Plan for Next Year.
a. Team and Individual Selection Criteria and Procedures.
(1) .500 or Above Criterion Implementation. The committee noted that the .500 or above criterion will remain in place for future championships.
(2) Minimum Number of Matches for Selections. The committee noted that with the new “clinch/clinch” format, the required minimum number of matches for selections will need to be monitored and may require revision for both singles and doubles selections.
(3) Review Worksheet/Weighting of Categories. The committee reviewed the selections worksheet and asked staff to determine the feasibility of running parallel Rating Percentage Index (RPI) results.
(4) Unsanctioned Matches. The committee reviewed the topic of unsanctioned matches and took no action.
(5) Overturned Results by ITA. The committee requested information regarding overturned results throughout the season rather than just prior to selections.
b. Lineup Form Procedure.
(1) Challenge Process and Timeline; Challenge Identification. The committee reviewed the timeline for lineup challenges and took no action.
(2) Doubles Lineups. The committee reviewed the unintended consequence of the increased squad size and directed staff to ask the ITA to add the topic to its association meetings agenda.
c. Teleconference with Tournament Directors, Site Representatives and Head Referees. The committee reviewed the format and agenda for the teleconference and took no action.
d. Manuals. NCAA staff assigned various committee members manuals to edit by September 15.

Committee Chair: D.J. Gurule, Gonzaga University, West Coast Conference Staff Liaisons: Kristin W. Fasbender, Championships and Alliances
Marie Scovron, Championships and Alliances

July 15-17, 2014, Meeting
Bobby Bayliss, University of Notre Dame
Tad Berkowitz, University of Arizona
Jeffrey Conyers, Southern University, Baton Rouge
D.J. Gurule, Gonzaga University
Laura Ludwick White, Drexel University
Steve Moore, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Marija Pientka, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Pierre Pilote, Stetson University
Jim Trego, U.S. Air Force Academy
Cristina Moros, University of Oklahoma

Other Participants:
David Benjamin, ITA
Carole Cox, Deputy Meet Referee* Kristin W. Fasbender, NCAA Elissa Kinnard Hill, USTA Damani Leech, NCAA
Anthony Montero, Meet Referee* Emily Parkins, NCAA
Angel Prinos, ITA
Marie Scovron, NCAA
Troy Venechanos, USTA
*via teleconference


Willie beaman said...

So does this mean college tennis is back to normal?

College tennis said...

The format with 3 singles and two doubles is a terrible idea. I really hope these coaches don't support that

Joe said...

Once again, the ITA and NCAA have their heads up the south end of a horse traveling north. Heads should roll.

Is this their final answer? said...

I have to ask the same thing Willie did.....does this mean it's back to normal for the 2014-2015 season?


Shawn said...

I can't say what it means for tennis development, 
but the newest format, 2 doubles and 3 singles at the same time, with the first team to win three points would make a very exciting viewing, especially for tv! 

Hybrid could work said...

Prefer the new hybrid format if we can keep
the old scoring with deuce, win by two points..

Title 9 is a luxury the men's teams don't have! said...

I love how the women's tennis players are complaining, sure their teams never get cut due to title nine.
They have the luxury to keep it the same.
We have to get more revenue coming in on the men's
side, or more men's teams will be cut!

Wonder Woman said...

Your ire shouldn't be directed at women's tennis, it should be directed at football. The scholarship discrepancy comes from there, and nowhere else.

Anonymous said...

"Estimated budget impact: None"; "shorter matches will have a positive impact on student athlete well being". I thought the whole point was to increase attendance and TV revenue. Neither are mentioned in the document that I can find.

Football? said...

Direct your ire at football Wonder Woman? Now that's comical.

Without football (TV contracts, etc), imagine how much worse the revenue difficulties would be for many athletic programs. Or, let's say you take away some or all of the scholarships for football, it's not as if those scholarships would be replaced in other men's sports. Where would the money come from? In all likelihood, there would be a corresponding decrease in women's scholarships to balance out the numbers. Whether or not you like football, it (& ESPN, etc) provides the majority of revenues to fund other sports.

Even it out said...

Women's tennis gives fulls rides to two players not in the line-up and prize money is equal for playing half the tennis men do at the slams when they don't come close to bringing in the revenue men's matches do. I'd say there is room for ire there. I say give 1.5 scholarship over from women to men so at least the starting 6 have a full for both men and women. Ain't gonna happen, but it should.

Wonder Woman said...

Everyone associated with collegiate athletics knows that football and basketball drive the ship financially, there's no disputing that. But so many people want to place all of the blame for men's tennis' problems on the doorsteps of women's programs. Title IX isn't a tennis law or even an athletics law. As far as professional tennis goes, there's not a professional women's sport more successful than women's tennis, so I'd say they deserve every penny.

half the penny said...

Women's tennis deserves every penny for declining crowds and declining revenues at their events? Saying it is the most successful women's sport when this is the reality is a bit embarrassing. But it allows women to take equal pay for half the effort and contribution, bravo, what a proud day for women.

Kevin said...

I'm not sure David Benjamin is the right person to "head up" the ITA anymore! I know he has done a good amount in his position, but when he supports changes that are not favorable to the majority, he no longer represents college tennis coaches & players!

Survey said...

The NCAA/ITA is not learning. 2 failures in procedure in 3 years. Now they want to push forward with parts of this (still No Ad and no third set for tournaments this weekend).

3 & 2 means you need 7 players simulatenously. You need MORE players.

Why do we need change (other than some men are worried they might be cancelled as $$$ moves to football. A few TV matches ain't gonna stop that).

Learn how to proceed. It's call valid survey and voting:
1) Propose XXX change and reasons why (legit goal)
2) Then membership votes Yes or No? (not either/or)

Repeat over and over until or IF you ever find an amended format that schools agree.

These sudden new ideas with alleged support don't have a majority. None of them. But 'why do we need a new format?'

Personally I'd love the following survey:

- Do you prefer the current format as you don't feel change is needed? YES or NO.