The case for extended college men's season

NCAA Division 1 men’s coaches have launched a campaign in conjunction with the NSCAA to press their case for abandoning the fall college season in favor of a fall-spring season.

The Academic Year Season Model would reduce the number of fall games, create a winter break, add games in the spring, reduce weekday games and bring the championship to June, addressing what the coaches say are issues of health, safety and time demands of student-athletes.

The coaches believe the proposal will reduce conflicts between academics and practice and games, increased practice times between games and reduce the number of games played over the weekend.

The proposal only covers NCAA I men. According to a survey of NCAA Division I women's players, just 17 percent supported the move to split the seasons. The key to the campaign is to convince athletic directors, college presidents and NCAA executives that the changes are important and feasible.

The longest team sport's season is the five months (plus playoffs) for NCAA Division I ice hockey. The proposed Division I men's soccer schedule extends four-plus months (September-November and February-April)

“We want to educate our Athletic Directors, NCAA leadership, student athletes, coaches and fans on the advantages of this Academic Year Model,” said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski, NSCAA D1 men’s committee chairman. “It’s the same number of playing opportunities we have today [25] but it reduces missed class time, gives appropriate rest and recovery time between games and moves the championship into a better weather time of year.”

The NCAA Division I men's final four draws poorly in December. The model for increased support is the NCAA lacrosse final four, which regularly draws crowds of 25,000 or more in late spring.

The record NCAA Tournament crowd for NCAA Division I men's soccer is 21,319 for the 1995 semifinals in Richmond that included Bruce Arena's last game as Virginia coach before he headed off to MLS, which launched in 1996.
26 comments about "The case for extended college men's season".
  1. R2 Dad, August 23, 2016 at 6:50 a.m.

    The Case for Salvaging Men's College Soccer". There--fixed it.

  2. Dan Eckert, August 23, 2016 at 7:09 a.m.

    I think this a good idea - but let's not fool ourselves. This isn't about the players - colleges burn thru these boys like a California wildfire - it's about the money. More attendance - more TV - more ad revenue - more visibility. These are all good things for soccer in the US - but let's say what it is really about - another revenue stream for colleges.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 23, 2016 at 10:10 a.m.

    Yes but they also realize that our elite young players aren't going to college any longer (which is a good thing for US Soccer and the kids themselves). So this might also be an effort to lure some of the top players going forward by showing them that college can be a decent place to develop.

    Of course, it's a terrible place to develop and is basically a waste of time for elite players. The level of competition is laughably low. Guys can't get back these wasted developmental years. College soccer will have a role for the late developer but that's about it.

  4. Rod Vernon replied, August 23, 2016 at 11:02 a.m.

    There are a lot of good reasons for the is not one of them. Same number of matches spread over a longer season actually would require more cost. Top 3 reasons in my opinion in order of significance:
    1. Allow rest between matches. No respectable league in the World, including top tournaments, schedule games without at least 3 Days of rest. And this doesnt happen more than twice a month at most. We want the players to learn how to play a 90 minute match and play with intensity knowing they have the rest to give 100%.
    2. #1 allows them to adopt full FIFA substitution rules. Although unrelated to the extended season change, they might as well eliminate the ridiculous clock and buzzer rules when they change the substitution rules...younger generations who widely play EA Sports FIFA laugh at the NCAA rules... very embarrassing to be stuck in 20th century Americana.
    3. Extend the training season to make it a more relevant development platform for some players who need or want a transition path to the professional game. Today USDA starts in early August and ends just before end of June....and so does every other top league Youth Academy in the world. To then go to college and cut the development on half is indeed a step back.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 25, 2016 at 10:12 a.m.

    Who is making more than Morris now? Let's see - Miazga, Pulisic, Hyndman and pretty much every other US player who didn't waste his time in NCAA ball. Morris would be a far better player if he'd turned pro at 18. Give me a break - college soccer is not for aspiring pros. It's a way for non-elite players to get an education while continuing to play a game they love.

  6. Kent James, August 23, 2016 at 9:05 a.m.

    This would fix a lot of the issues with college soccer, and is certainly a step in the right direction.

  7. Bill Wilson, August 23, 2016 at 10:51 a.m.

    Only friends and family and a few with more time on their hands than they know what to do with care about Men's college soccer. The coaches are going to prostrate themselves in front of AD's and President's trying to convince them that this change can happen without spending any more money....which is all the administrators care about. Just give it up, turn the programs into a club sport and redirect the any soccer money to Division 1 "real" football budgets. Redeploy the soccer coaching talent into MLS Academies and youth development. Power 5 conference
    Football is all the NCAA cares about anyway.

  8. Ginger Peeler replied, August 23, 2016 at 1:41 p.m.

    Wow! Bill, believe it or not, most people go to college to get an education. Some of them are gifted athletes and they receive scholarships to play the sports they have loved throughout their earlier school, football, basketball, swimming...etc, while representing their college/university. They and their families care passionately about their sports. You recommend taking away many a young man's opportunity to help PAY HIS WAY through college with a scholarship by dropping the school's support of soccer? Those scholarships may be the only means those young men have to help pay for their college education. But you would remove that opportunity for them. Cold, truly cold!

  9. Richard Brown, August 23, 2016 at 10:54 a.m.

    If your going to college a longer season would be better.

  10. Richard Brown, August 23, 2016 at 10:55 a.m.

    Baseball starts to late it should start earlier as well

  11. nick p, August 23, 2016 at 11:03 a.m.

    this proposal could revolutionize college soccer, and give it the proper respect it deserves

  12. Eddie Rockwell, August 23, 2016 at 11:24 a.m.

    Why all the negative comments on college soccer. Perhaps the players want to continue the sport they love while pursuing an education.
    Not everyone can be a pro...

  13. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 23, 2016 at 11:39 a.m.

    Exactly - college soccer is great for someone who loves the game but lacks the ability to make it as a pro. It's a great opportunity for those players to get an education while continuing to play. But college soccer is a terrible developmental choice for aspiring professional players. Elite 18 year old players need to be playing professionally, like they do everywhere else in the soccer playing world.

  14. don Lamb replied, August 24, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, maybe the answer is to make college soccer more professional. NCAA soccer should be a huge development system equal to a 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th divisions in other countries. With changes to the calendar, no reason leagues like the ACC and PAC 12 can't be seen as a viable 5th division type of setup with lesser leagues being comparable to lesser divisions. Their is talent in college soccer. Pretty much every team in MLS has a couple of big contributors that played in college. Players like Roldan, Pontius, Larin, Harrison, Blake, etc. played in college. MLS academies are the main route forward in terms of youth development, but the NCAA should continue playing a big role in developing the depth of not just our player pool, but more importantly our soccer culture.

  15. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 25, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    AA - did you read the article? It's about how players are rejecting these D1 scholarships and instead turning pro. Likely because they realize that playing at a super low level for free is not the best way to develop.

  16. Richard Brown, August 23, 2016 at 2:10 p.m.

    Most college players do not have the ability to play pro.

  17. Ginger Peeler, August 23, 2016 at 2:21 p.m.

    Nor do most of them plan on going pro.

  18. Ginger Peeler, August 23, 2016 at 2:22 p.m.

    They're there for the education. That's what college is for.

  19. Ric Fonseca replied, August 23, 2016 at 2:47 p.m.

    Ginger, as usual your comments are spot on! As someone asked above, why all the negative comments about college soccer, well, as one who was literally steeped in the college game, from my junior year at CSUHayward through graduate work at UCLA and then as college coach at a 4-year program and community college, from 1967 - 1998, I am all in favor of what the coaches propose! For far too many years, I saw the "so-called revenue producing sports" get pampered and then see the likes of the baseball season run into early summer and those teams that make it to the college series into the early summer. Many above have forgotten the term "student-athlete" that is still "bantied about," and yet it is very obvious that they really IMHO do not comprehend what this means. In short, I've always been in favor of changing the collegiate soccer season, however, it SHOULD NOT be only for DI schools, but MUST embrace the complete divisional concept DI, II, and III, and perhaps even the community-junior colleges as well, so if your going to fix the problem, fix it for everyone - as this is akin to changing one of the four-bald tires in your car first and then the other ones as they go flat! PLAY ON!!!

  20. Ric Fonseca, August 24, 2016 at 1:06 a.m.

    FOR EVERYONE'S INFORMATION, NCAA DI universities/colleges, can and do offer full or partial scholarships, and are able to admit students through an athletic admissions process. All students, however, MUST take the SAT/ACT exams, and have a passing gpa, and "meet muster" in order to be admitted. I am sure one has read stories where in a "student athlete" in "x" sport is recruited, goes through the vetting process, and is ready to participate, only to be informed by the Intercollegiate Athletics office (read: AD, Asst AD, and Coach) he/she has not met ALL the requisites to be admitted.
    NCAA DII programs have the same criterion, however, it also usually must abide by not only the "holy grail" of the admission's process but also the specific conference of competition, while NCAA DIII programs are not allowed to offer a full or even partial intercollegiate ride, but the possibly recruited student athlete is not given any intercoillegiate athletics financial assistance other than the regular kind available to any and all regular students that apply for admission. And there is the "junior-community college" programs, e.g. California community colleges are NOT members of the national NJCAA, and even conduct their own "state" championships, and rarely participate in the national ranking and or national junior college championship series. Tuition at these community-junior colleges vary from state to state, but in California, registration-tuition fees range about $45.00 per unit or credit hour, while it could be as high as $125.00 in other states, and ALL students at this system MUST be enrolled in a full load/course of study of 12 units/credit hours per semester, exactly the same as their cohorts at a four-year universities. And lastly, there are the NAIA programs, usually comprised of private and small liberal arts colleges/universities, with the only common thread being the full-load, and probably some financial aid and at times a full intercollegiate athletic-student ride. There, something to ponder and think about this... PLAY ON!!!

  21. R2 Dad replied, August 27, 2016 at 12:49 a.m.

    Thx for the recap, Ric!

  22. Wooden Ships, August 24, 2016 at 6:09 p.m.

    A few issues raised here. First though, is that if the US continues to mix sport with academia, extending the soccer season makes sense for a number of reasons and Rod and Don hit on my thoughts. Reporting to preseason when we did, we were a full third into our season before as a team we were match fit. And the amount of games in a short period also added to unhealthy situations. I hope the Maryland coach and others can make a difference, it makes sense and its worth a try. I still think that those that are in position to make this happen are either indifferent or maintain a negative view of the sport. Times are changing slowly though. As Ric said, this should include all levels not just D-1. There has been a track record of many, mostly foreign, players turn professional going through NAIA programs. It preceeded the NCAA, especially aligning itself with soccer. With regard to AA's desire to see a better style of play in college, that's largely dependent upon the coach. Again AA, that too depends upon that coaches exposure and experience with the game. Overall, I think its becoming less acceptable to field an athletic team at the expense of skill and technique, I'm hoping anyway. You know that the Big 12, formerly Big 8, still doesn't have men's soccer, maybe the SEC too? Soccer is still fighting a lot of bias, tradition, bigotry, xenophobia and the sharing of funding against those still in charge.

  23. Ginger Peeler, August 24, 2016 at 7:44 p.m.

    Some of the SEC colleges/universities had men's soccer programs several years ago. Most of them just have women's programs.

  24. don Lamb replied, August 26, 2016 at 1:49 p.m.

    You might be thinking about club teams. Most SEC schools have never had men's varsity soccer. Why? Title IX...

  25. beautiful game, August 27, 2016 at 12:53 p.m.

    Dual college season will never happen. Playing college ball in the fall and club ball in the spring is sufficient.

  26. humble 1, August 29, 2016 at 4:39 p.m.

    Needs to happen. Seriously, don't they still have 'wave' substitutions in college soccer? We need to do all we can to 'right' soccer in the USA, including amateur soccer, which includes H.S. and Colleges. We'll never be a world class soccer country if we only have a pay-to-play and professional class. We need a model that fits our country. Stop trying to force the European model on us. The most important links, and most ignored links for U.S. soccer are in the Americas not in Europe.

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