Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Big Changes Coming For Division III Selection Criteria

The NCAA announced this week that the Division III Championships Committee has recommended changes to the regional criteria/selection process that would take effect for the 2013-2014 academic year (that’s the year after next, if you’re keeping score at home). These changes are technically still subject to the approval of the NCAA Management Council, but I’d be willing to bet that’s pretty much a formality, at this point.

Check out the article, and I’ll hit the highlights below.

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Increase in number of mandated in-region games

committee members voted to include as part of the primary selection criteria for team sports the requirement that institutions play at least 70 percent of their competition against Division III in-region opponents

The current rule is that teams must play 50 percent of their games versus in-region competition, so this is a sizeable boost. This would mean that teams would be required to play about 18 regional games (in a 26 game schedule) to be eligible for NCAA Tournament consideration. I’m not sure of the nuances – if the “countable games” include conference tournaments or not, but it will indeed force Calvin to schedule more regional games. The Knights played only 17 regional games this season.

I would love to see this change come with an expansion of the regional definition by the Men’s Basketball Committee (an adjacent state rule, perhaps), but we’ll go one step at a time.

And that brings me to the second (and infinitely huger) change:

Counting all division III games in the primary criteria

the Championships Committee also agreed that all contests against Division III institutions would be included in the primary criteria (with non-Division III competition included in the secondary criteria).

Let me be the first to say: HUZZAH!

I think this will make a lot of people happy. We’re maintaining the regional emphasis – by forcing teams (who aren’t already) to play more Div. III in-region competition, but we aren’t penalizing them for the interesting games that are played across regions, whether they be 201 miles apart, played over a holiday, or just a once-in-a-while trip.

This is a big step, and the NCAA deserves kudos for this change. They’re giving us what we want – the ability to count all D3 games – but, in the end, they’re not really sacrificing the regional focus.

Well done, NCAA.

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