Friday, March 13, 2020

My Conversation with Robin Montgomery; USTA Shuts Down All Sanctioned Events Through April 20; NCAA Signals Approval of Extra Year of Eligibility for Student Athletes in Spring Sports

On Tuesday, I had an opportunity to talk with Robin Montgomery about her surprise title last week at the $25,000 Oracle Pro Series event in Las Vegas. The 15-year-old from Washington DC has been steadily rising in the ITF junior rankings since making the Easter Bowl ITF Grade B1 final last year, but this is her first real result at the pro level, leaving her with a decision to make about her pro status. Montgomery is one of the rare juniors who has drawn the attention of sports management agents early in her career, but as of now, she is still an amateur, who is allowed to earn $10,000 on the Pro Circuit without jeopardizing her status as an amateur with the NCAA. The prize money for last week's title was $3,935. I spoke with Montgomery about her path from her introduction to tennis at the Junior Tennis Champions Center's community outreach program at age 5 to her title last week in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The USTA announced today that it was shutting down all of its sanctioned events for five weeks, until April 20. While some USTA sections were proceeding with events, those will not take place now. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the National Campus will remain open to the general public "for play and instructional opportunities" but fitness facilities, food service and locker rooms will be closed.

The USTA's huge annual meeting was scheduled for March 27-30 in Orlando, and it is still on, but it will be a remote meeting. Here is the update I received today from Corporate Communications Managing Director Chris Widmaier on that:

The USTA Annual Meeting is being transitioned from a live-attended event to a virtual meeting. Details of the this transition, and a revised agenda will be sent to all USTA Annual Meeting registrants at some point today.

The NCAA has put out several COVID-19 directives since canceling its spring sport championships yesterday, including imposing a "dead period" for in-person recruiting at this time. Phone calls are allowed.

The NCAA appears to be heading for an extension of a year of eligibility to all spring sport athletes, but there are obviously many details to be worked out before it becomes official policy. This is regarding Division I:

Council leadership agreed that eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports. Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time. Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and weeks.

Similar arrangements are expected for Division II and Division III. Most of the NCAA information released today is being transmitted via twitter, so check out the NCAA account for the latest updates.

I will revisit this issue when the rules are finalized.