The Business Season
By Rob Kehoe, NSCAA College Programs Director
February 16, 2017
The title of my pre-holiday newsletter column was “The Seasons of College Soccer," in which I stated that the conclusion of the fall championship season signals the beginning of “The Business Season” for college soccer. And as I write in February, we are deeply immersed in “The Business Season” with activity focused on attending to the important initiatives for all divisions.
The first activity of the year was, of course, the NSCAA Convention in Los Angeles that included exclusive education sessions for college coaches, very productive divisional meetings, as well as a “standing room only” College Coaches Awards reception that was placed in a new time slot to make attendance more convenient.
In the divisional meetings, priorities for each division were discussed and representatives from NCAA Championships, Academic & Membership Affairs, and Playing Rules were in attendance to assist in providing direction for pursuing changes to improve the sport and student-athlete experience. Consistent initiative themes are expansion of the championship season and improving the tournament format, with specific variations presented for each division and/or gender. Additionally, the playing rules cycle was discussed with recognition that this year is important for discussing rule changes to be considered for the 2018-2019 rules cycle, and this particularly relates to review of the overtime and substitution rules.
Immediately after the NSCAA convention, I attended the NCAA convention in Nashville, TN from January 18-21, and met with representatives from all divisions, as well as with the NCAA Chief Medical Officer, and the Director of the NCAA Sports Science Institute. From January 30-31, I was at the NCAA office in Indianapolis to meet with each of the divisional soccer committees, the NCAA liaisons to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel and Soccer Playing Rules Committee, liaison for the NCAA Division I Council, legislative liaisons from DI, DII, and DIII Academic and Membership Affairs, and a representative from the NCAA Eligibility Center. These meetings were followed up with a return to the NCAA office on February 7 for meetings with the NCAA Executive Vice President, the Soccer Playing Rules Committee, and liaisons to the Division I men’s and women’s soccer committees.
In the meetings, and since, the following topics were, and continue to be, discussed:
Division I men – Pursuit of a full academic year season model, tournament format change, improvement of College Cup venues and tournament television coverage.
Division I women – Pursuit of championship season expansion, change for tournament format, improvement of College Cup venues and tournament television coverage.
Division II men and women – Pursuit of pre-season training expansion, tournament date adjustment, bracket expansion.
Division III men and women - Pursuit of pre-season training expansion, tournament format change, spring training expansion.
All divisions – Overtime and substitution rules, student-athlete balance, health and well-being.
Division I men and women – recruiting rules
The summary of this activity is that there is significant discussion momentum that must now be followed up with communication through our College Membership Group divisional networks. One action will be that surveys will be conducted in which responses will be requested and essential to provide necessary information to decision-making bodies. Also, in the interest of improving conditions for the soccer experience in the playing and practice seasons, and postseason tournament, the NCAA sports science group will be seeking assistance in collecting data to help with their assessment of the sport, and ultimately, their best practices recommendations.
So, clearly, “The Business Season” is buzzing with activity, and in that it is, please stay connected as information is forthcoming on how each coach and program can help move initiatives forward to enhance the college soccer experience.