[PORTLAND DAILY]West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck, father of NFL star Andrew Luck, former MLS club president Kevin Payne, and the NSCAA's Rob Kehoe are in Portland to push for support for a plan to restructure NCAA Division I men's soccer. They will on Tuesday present a proposal to turn NCAA Division I men's soccer into a full-year sport to the MLS Technical Committee.
NCAA Division I Men's Soccer:MLS Technical Committee Presentation
The move comes as more and more players skip all or part college soccer to turn pro early. MLS clubs are doing so much on the Homegrown front that the league organized its first Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game in conjunction with the All-Star week.
It is expected that many MLS teams will form their own full-time reserve teams that will only increase the likelihood that they will stock them with young players who might otherwise be in college. And the college game could soon face competition as the amateur PDL has announced plans to expand into the fall.
“The general approach is they’re supportive and want to know a little more about the specifics,” Luck said before the MLS meeting.
The proposal provides for 15 dates in the fall and 10 in the spring, spreading out the time between games to make them more meaningful. Many teams now play one or more fall tournaments on Fridays and Saturdays. The new plans would eliminate them, requiring a minimum of three nights between games. The proposal would also limit mid-week games to three per semester.
The two seasons would begin in September and March, and the postseason NCAA Tournament would begin in May and culminate with the Men's College Cup on a Friday and Monday in the first week of June.
Among the benefits the proponents of the proposal:
-- Better training for players as the gaps between matches would be extended.
-- Better environment for students, particularly incoming freshmen, to concentrate on their schoolwork.
-- Better season -- i.e. better weather -- to make the NCAA Tournament a showcase event.
The question marks:
1. Will the NCAA membership -- its presidents -- give the proposal the time of day?
Soccer remains a non-revenue sport, out of sight and out of mind to many presidents. Will the NCAA want to address the "development" needs of one sport when many other sports would seek similar changes in format?
Do members even care? Many big Division I schools don't even have men's soccer. West Virginia is the only school in the 10-member Big 12 that sponsors men's soccer.
2. Has the MLS development train left the station?MLS is not going to oppose the college soccer proposal, but again, does it care? Clubs are pushing ahead fast with plans that will make the college game more and more irrelevant.
On Monday, MLS All-Stars coach Caleb Porter, who made his name as a college coach at Akron, said college soccer was "relevant," given the role of college in the American education system, but he acknowledged the difficulties for players turning pro at 22 or 23 after having been at the top of the heap all their careers.
That is one aspect of the player development conundrum that will not change with the current proposal.