Wednesday, September 16, 2020

NCAA Division I Recruiting Dead Period Extended Through Year End; Fall Competition Dates Announced in Several Conferences; Is Pandemic an Excuse to Dump College Olympic Sports?

The NCAA imposed an NCAA Division I dead period on in-person recruiting back in March, and it has been extended each month since. Today, at the Division I Council meeting that produced a November 25th start date for basketball, the dead period was extended once again, this time through the end of the year. The reason for this prohibition is ostensibly health and safety; that made sense to me when sports were not being played and school was not in session, but now that both are back in many areas, there must be more to it than that. Division II resumed normal recruiting on September 1, so unless you think they care less about health and safety than Division I coaches, there's a disconnect there somewhere.

I spoke this week to a women's head coach Chris Young of Oklahoma State for an article about the ITF Fall Tour that will appear Friday on the Tennis Recruiting Network and he told me that he can't attend the Fall Tour events that are being played at his campus facility because of the dead period. With potential student-athletes allowed to enter, simply being at the tournament, even though he has players from his team competing, is not allowed. In addition, no coaches can attend private practices or go to any other tournaments, including any of the USTA and ITF events this fall, a major departure from normal recruiting calendar.

While many fall sports. including university-sponsored competition in tennis, have been postponed, some conferences are permitting a few competitive dates. The SEC is allowing three team events beginning October 1; here is what the Georgia men and the Mississippi women, for example, have planned for those dates. 

Some teams in the Big 12 are also announcing fall dates, with the Oklahoma men and Texas Tech women among them. The Oklahoma release mentions a new tournament: the Big 12 Individual championships, which for the men will be at TCU and for the women will be at Oklahoma State. The Georgia release also contains information on an individual tournament, the 53rd annual Southern Intercollegiates, which is usually held in Athens in September, but will be held, as will the Big 12 events, November 6-8.  I had understood those to be the dates for the ITA National Fall Championships, but as I said yesterday, the details of that event have not been released, so perhaps it will be scheduled for the preceding or following weekend.

It was announced today that the Big Ten will play football after all, beginning on October 24. This probably isn't much consolation to the men's tennis teams at Iowa and Minnesota, which will be cut after this year according to recent announcements.

Football and basketball are considered the profit centers that fund the Olympic sports at the Division I level, but it's much more complicated than that.  Former Division I athlete D.R. Hildebrand, a William and Mary graduate, wrote this Richmond Times-Dispatch column entitled Cutting sports to steal endowments: The myth of football-funded athletics.

And Greg Couch, a sportswriter who is coaching the NAIA men's and women's teams at Roosevelt University in Chicago, wrote this column for Outkick entitled NCAA Schools Cry Poverty, Use Pandemic to Cut Sports They Didn't Want Anyway.

Both look at the management of athletic departments at the Division I level and wonder about the legitimacy of the cost-benefit analysis those departments are making.