By R.J. Anderson
College basketball prospects now have less time to "test the waters" when deciding whether or not to make themselves eligible for the NBA Draft. Sand volleyball is NCAA Division I's newest emerging sport. And the Division I baseball season will be one week longer while remaining at 56 games. These are a few of the important stories that came out of the NCAA meetings over the last couple of weeks. Read on for updates on the Association's most recent activity.
Thursday, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors decided that players who declare for the NBA Draft will now have until May 8 to remove their names and retain college eligibility. Previously, players had until June 15 to finalize their decision. The deadline change helps college coaches adjust their recruiting and scholarship management by letting them know earlier whether or not they are losing players to the draft.
According to David Berst, an NCAA vice president for Division I, the NCAA, NBA, and NBA Players Association all provided input before the decision was made. Berst told the Indianapolis Star that it's possible the issue could be re-visited before the 2010 draft "if there's sufficient interest or consensus to get that done."
The Board also voted to add a 14th week to the Division I baseball season calendar, giving teams the option of beginning the season a week earlier. It also rejected a proposal that would have reduced the number of games from 56 to 52. By spreading the season out over another week, the goal is to reduce the number of missed classes in the sport, which typically posts low scores in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate.
The Board was also presented an NCAA-commissioned report detailing recent spending in major college athletics, which continued to rise despite the current economic conditions. The report showed that major college athletic programs increased their operating budgets by 11 percent annually, bumping up expenditures by well more than a third over a three-year span from 2004 to 2007.
This more than doubled the 4.9 percent increase in universities' overall spending. Meanwhile, athletic budgets for Football Bowl Subdivision schools increased on average from $31 million in 2004 to $42 million in 2007.
"It's unsustainable," former University of Arizona President Peter Likins, told the USA Today. "Those trends cannot continue.
"The real important question for people to ask--for alumni, for taxpayers and tuition-payers--is: Where is the (additional) money coming from?" adds Likins, who headed a high-level NCAA panel that looked into financial and other athletic issues four years ago. "If it's coming from the university while that university is firing people and reducing programs and diminishing services to the students it's intended to serve, that is worthy of protest."
On April 21, the NCAA Division I Legislative Council voted to join Division II in adding sand volleyball to the list of emerging sports for women. The proposal, which was officially adopted at the close of the Division I Board of Directors meeting April 30, takes effect in August 2010. Division II approved sand volleyball as an emerging sport at the January Convention, and will also delay the sport's introduction until August 2010.
"With more than 400,000 girls playing high school volleyball, we welcome the addition of collegiate roster spots," Kathy DeBoer, Executive Director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association told the Associated Press.
A spring sport, sand volleyball will be played two-on-two. Though specific playing rules have yet to be finalized, it's likely that schools would field five teams per dual contest, similar to intercollegiate tennis. Individual matches would likely be scored like Olympic beach volleyball--best of three games, with rally scoring up to 21 in the first two sets and to 15 in the third, if necessary. The team winning at least three matches would win the dual competition. Also still to be determined are playing season parameters and financial aid and scholarship limits.
Holding the "emerging sport" designation means that sand volleyball would need just 40 schools--across all divisions--within 10 years to gain championship status and become an official NCAA sponsored sport.
"Then you have to go into a budget cycle and appeal for funding," DeBoer told our sister publication, Coaching Management. "But historically, once a sport has reached the numbers needed, the NCAA will put it in the cycle to fund its championship."
Those skeptical of the sand volleyball proposal wonder if the sport's model is feasible at the collegiate level based on logistical, financial, and climate challenges. Supporters feel the game would generate more scholarships for deserving players and more publicity for the sport of volleyball.
The Division I Committee on Academic Performance also met in late-April, voting to refine its policies for collection of the head coaches' Academic Progress Rate portfolio, a publicly searchable Web site that will display the single-year APR for which a head coach is associated with a team. The Committee also spent time reviewing the most recent APR data before its public release May 6.
For the coaches' portfolio, the committee approved a procedure for submitting and confirming information on its head coaches while providing a system that will allow coaches to review that information. The NCAA News reported that the committee also decided that interim head coaches will not be included in the database.
Schools will be able to begin submitting information pertaining to their head coaches in baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, and women's indoor and outdoor track this fall. Then, a database with this information will made available with the release of APR data in Spring 2010. Information on the remaining NCAA sport head coaches will be available in 2011.
R.J. Anderson is the Online Editor at Athletic Management.