Friday, June 12, 2020

Men's Tennis Tops List of NCAA Cuts; UNC-Charlotte Men, San Diego Women Top Mid-Major Recruiting Class Lists; College Tennis Today Tracks Fifth-Year Seniors, Transfers; Two ITA Summer Circuit Events Added at USTA National Campus

Sports Illustrated's cover article yesterday, entitled A Collegiate Model in Crisis: The Crippling Impact of Schools Cutting Sports, is must-reading for anyone interested in college athletics in general and for those interested in college tennis in particular. Since the pandemic, 30 Division I sports have been cut, with tennis the hardest hit, losing eight programs at five different schools.

Although the article encompasses all Olympic Sports, here are the brief explanations given for the willingness to cut tennis:

So far this spring, tennis has been the most popular choice to cut. Of the 30 teams eliminated, eight are either men’s or women’s tennis. Coincidentally or not, tennis is also responsible for having the largest foreign participation of any sport. About 60% of tennis rosters are not native to the U.S. “There’s somewhere around 7,000 scholarships available (inclusive of D-I, D-II, NAIA, and JUCO), and there are just not enough American juniors to fill the scholarships,” says Tim Russell, the CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. “There have been some schools where the coach only recruits internationally, and there have been some ADs saying, ‘Can’t have a program of all international students.’” There are other reasons tennis is targeted, Russell says. The most common are costs associated with an indoor and outdoor facility.
This trend, especially for men's tennis, is nothing new. As the graph right below that paragraph shows, men's tennis has lost the highest percentage of programs of any Olympic sports since 1990.
Since 1990, NCAA Division I membership has grown by 58 schools, yet at least eight sports—all men’s teams—are sponsored by fewer schools today than they were 30 years ago, including wrestling (37 fewer teams), swimming (25), gymnastics (24) and tennis (22). Proportionally, no sport has taken more of a hit than men’s tennis, which is sponsored today by 71.5% of the D-I membership. In 1990, 93.2% schools had men’s tennis.
Even with the protections of Title IX, women's tennis has also had a net loss of programs in the last thirty years, having 6 percent fewer than in 1990.

Although I'd seen reference to this in other articles, this article presents several examples of how cutting sports often ends up costing the schools tuition money rather than saving money. But the accounting is such that athletic departments and the university look at separate bottom lines, which doesn't account for the best interests of the school and its population as a whole.

I've been trying to keep up with all the cuts on this site, but a much more organized and interactive method of following the dropping of college athletic programs is available at this website.

This week Tennis Recruiting Network is featuring the Recruiting Class Rankings for Mid-Majors, with the men's list coming out Monday, and the women's list released today. Kyle Bailey, who just completed his first season at UNC-Charlotte, has the No. 1 men's Mid-Major class, followed by San Diego, Louisiana, Denver and UC Santa Barbara.

No. 1 in the women's list is San Diego, which has attracted its first blue chip recruit in Abigail Desiatnikov. Memphis, Florida International, SMU and San Jose State round out the top 5.

The Division III recruiting class rankings will be out next week.

Bobby Knight at College Tennis Today has been collecting all the information about returning seniors and graduate transfers that has emerged since the NCAA decided to grant an extra year of eligibility. He has posted an excel spreadsheet with all seniors listed for the Power 5 conferences, the AAC and Non-power 5 conferences. He has filled in all the information that he has gathered, but if you have been able to confirm other decisions regarding returning or transferring, please let him know via the email on his site or by tweeting @College10s2day.

The ITA Summer Circuit has added another event in Southern California to take the place of the Week 2 Long Beach tournament that was canceled. Registration for the June 27-29 event at the Weil Academy in Ojai is open now. Registration opens Monday for the two recently added tournaments in Weeks 4 and 5 at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona.


Marge Cooper Taylor said...

My son played junior ITF tournaments Jon King. I remember there being someone in the chair and sometimes some additional referees. He liked playing those tournaments more than playing the usual USTA tournaments. The ITF tournaments were well organized and not as much score issues or bad line calls. The ITF WTT is the full name with the WTT meaning World Tennis Tour. I hope that helps.

Michael Richards said...

Nonsense about there not being enough US kids to fill the rosters. There are about 1000 boys and 1000 girls with USTA ranking points in each US graduating class. That is 8000 US kids in a 4 year period playing competitive tennis. Only 2800 get scholarships.

The coaches recruit 60% non US players because they can. Pure and simple. No rules against it so they seek out the best possible player with no regard to giving more US kids a place on the team. It has nothing to do with not enough US kids being interested in playing college tennis.

Any other country would have a quota such as 80% of the roster would have to be kids from that country. If the level of play is less, so be it.

Jon King said...

Thank you Marge. Once junior tennis returns we will likely have to expand our travel and get out of the South Florida junior scene. The cheating and poor behavior from both kids and parents seems to have only increased the past few years.

We see several options. The ITF WTT like you and SeminoleG discussed. Also traveling to other areas to play USTA tournaments. South Florida has so many academies which seems to add to the pressure on the kids to cheat. We have played a few tournaments in north Florida and the atmosphere was much less stressful.

I just read a story about Sofya Zhuk retiring from tennis at age 20. She was interviewed as a junior and told the story of how she once won a tiebreak 7-1 and the other girl actually told her "no, I am leading the tiebreak 5-4". So its not just a point here and there, its epic cheating that changes outcomes. And where was the tournament played that Zhuk told her story about....South Florida!

SeminoleG said...

BRAVO Michael Richards..... I find this shocking. Years ago I was a Officer Recruiter for the Navy and would routinely contact Coaches of "Non-Revenue Sports" for candidates. We found some of the BEST officers were students that played sports thru college. Tennis, Baseball, Swimming, Soccer etc were filled with great Potential Leaders of young men and women in various fields in the Navy. To my surprise many of these slots were filled with FOREIGNERs that were also OLDER than US Athletes. As a current BOOSTER for my Alma Matter there has been a movement to look harder for US Kids. Sadly a good portion of the foreign players don't even graduate. As many colleges rightfully post their GPAs and graduation rates, many schools with more foreign players do not. I was supposed that with all the coverage of the College Admissions scandals this NEVER came up. Guess it is not that big of a deal, until Universities start eliminating programs. That has begun let us see what happens next.