I recently had a chat about college soccer with a graduating senior on my team. It was a great chat about how college soccer should change. I gave him my point of view and encouraged him (and really his generation of players, and those to come) to actually get in the power-positions to do something. No one in NCAA or NAIA thinks about soccer — and I wouldn’t think they would — but there really needs to be changes.
I wrote about NAIA soccer recently (here). That same wish goes out to all collegiate soccer. No doubt about that. I’ll probably touch on that again in the future. Regardless of that, there really needs to be someone who says, “Just Fix College Athletics Already.” For far too long, we have sat around and made rules about things that don’t matter. In the end, we NEED to see a better emphasis in development — classroom and competition. Why in the world do European (and I’d assume elsewhere) soccer academies put an emphasis on BOTH…and still are able to effectively operate at a better rate financially than we do in America? It’s not too hard to find out that NCAA Division I football spends $290,000+ on a single football player!
Anywho…back to my wish list of changes for NCAA Division III…
Change 1: Do away with this “no scholarships for student-athletes.” This is one of the most absurd rules I have ever heard. Sure…it probably had good reasoning behind it at one time. But, why now? If you don’t scholarship them, then why recruit them? Do not allow any coaches to recruit at the Division III level. Just make them coach whoever they get. Student-athletes are recruited TO PLAY THEIR SPORT(S). They should be rewarded for that.
Don’t feed me no crappy lines of “academics are the primary focus of Division III.” Academics should be the primary focus of all athletes involved in interscholastic and/or intercollegiate athletics! That’s the case at La Masia (Barcelona’s academy). If academics are the main priority, then shorten the seasons. If academics are the main priority then make the institutions cheaper and more accessible for individuals to enter into academia and get their education! Treated as a student-first…gimme a break.
Okay, then don’t scholarship them. The simplest, most easiest change…scholarship/grant anyone involved in an extracurricular activity that competes in intercollegiate activities. It’s funny that band, choir, drama, debate, and art students can earn scholarships, but athletes can’t. Oh, but those are “academic” endeavors. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. No one is really more visible on a college campus (and off of it) than what athletes are. If those “academic” endeavors are able to receive scholarships, then why not an athlete who may end up spending MORE hours in their sport than their actual major/minor courses? So, easy fix — since all those that participate in an intercollegiate activity are unable to keep up with a regular job, like their non-athlete counterparts, then at least pay them for that to offset costs.
The NCAA Division III soccer season starts at the beginning of September (with training starting in mid-August) and runs until the beginning of December, that would be 3.5 months (or so). That would be a total of 17 weeks of active participation in DIII soccer. Pay these student-athletes minimum wage of 20 hours a week. That would mean for a fall semester, a soccer student-athlete gets $145 per week (20 hours x $7.25 the federal minimum wage) and a total of $2,465 ($145 per week x 17 weeks). But…the spring semester allows for 5 weeks of contact, so…tack on another $725 for those weeks. A grand total of $3,190 to the student-athlete to help offset the rising cost of education.
Is this really too much to ask? You are having the “student”-athlete promote your institution on the playing field AND any other activities one may participate in due to required team activities. Why not reward them? Why not help them actually lower their student debt? It’s a small, small, small token of appreciate for what the athlete does for the school. In 4 years, it helps reduce costs by $12,760!
Depending on the student and his/her ability to repay debt, that could be 1-5+ years knocked off the repayment plan. Which also means…a quicker return on an alumnus in being an active member in campus philanthropy.
Change 2: I mentioned it earlier, the offseason contact period. The 5 week rule is just silly. Either train or don’t train. Oh, and within those 5 weeks, you have 16 sessions…but you can’t go more than 3-4 per week! Oh, and if you happen to get inclement weather during one week, you CANNOT make it up. Really? You already gave the week off due to weather, so how does that hold anyone back from their academics by giving another week? Semesters are 16 weeks long anyway…and you are restricting the opportunity for development by more than 1/3 the time with their coach?! Makes no sense. The coach is already on campus. The coach is already paid to do his/her job…why not let coach COACH?! Or…what you can do, just cut salaries because coaches can only coach half the time. Cutting salaries will then allow college costs to shrink a little more since there is less to pay…right? Or…can we not do that because higher education is just to profitable of a business?
Oh, and get this…the team cannot even go on their own to set up “friendlies” or play in a league together. That’s against the rules. So…now we restrict individuals in collectively setting something up on their own free will! How dare people go and play soccer against another team on their own. That HAS to be restricted because every Saturday in the spring semester is reserved for academics! You have papers to write. You have tests to study for. You have to ice your rears for lectures all week long. We simply cannot let anyone do as they please.
Not too much to change here…unless you consider the calendar change too. It’s just silly how Division III operates sometime. For it being so “academic,” they could at least do without a typo on their official website. It’s time to change things. Be active on campus. Be active in the athletic department. Be active with and away from your team. Don’t sit around and let people make senseless decisions.
I’m tired of things just carrying on “like they always have” because times change and so shouldn’t the way we operate.
How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? And I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it. — Jim Valvano