Leaders of 18 college coaches' organizations representing so-called non-revenue or Olympic sports, including United Soccer Coaches, have sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert
request for emergency legislative relief from 27 of the 32 Division I conferences to reduce or waive several Division I membership requirements.
These conferences want to give their
schools the flexibility to cut expenses related to running their athletic programs in response to revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn. Save College Sports: Letter
The waiver request that has leaders of non-revenue Division I sports
the most fearful: reducing the requirement about the minimum number of sports a school must sponsor will put many non-revenue sports on the chopping block. Division I landscape:
NCAA Division I conferences are broken into two subdivisions: FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools and non-FBS schools.
schools play in one of the 10 conferences that have top-flight college football programs (Power 5 and Group of 5). Non-FBS schools are mostly smaller schools, some of which have football and compete
in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision)
FBS schools must field at least 16 teams, with a minimum of six men's teams and a minimum of eight women's teams. Non-FBS Division I schools
must field at least 14 teams. (Division II requirements include: minimum of five men's teams and five women's teams or four men's teams and six women's teams. Division III requirements include:
minimum of five men's teams and five women's teams.) Soccer participation:
Of the 32 conferences, 31 sponsor women's soccer and
24 sponsor men's soccer though not all schools in a conference have varsity soccer (more so on the men's side, where several conferences have the minimum number of members to qualify for an automatic
bid in the NCAA Tournament).
In 2018-19, soccer ranked
all Division I women's sports in terms of participation (behind only track & field) and fourth in all Division I men's sports in terms of participation (behind football, track & field and
baseball). Revenue threat:
College athletics is particularly vulnerable to a drop in revenues in response to the pandemic and
“We’re an enterprise that is solely operated by those who choose to support us with their discretionary income," Texas athletic director Chris Del
The Athletic recently. "Whether it be television, season
tickets, all the people who donate money — all of those things are predicated on having events.” Already, $375 million in television revenues were lost with the cancellation of the NCAA
men’s basketball tournament in March.
The big concern is that the college football season will not go forward in the fall, or be delayed until a later date -- yes, there is talk of
playing in the winter and spring in 2021. "If we can’t play football this fall," Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard told
The Athletic. "I mean it’s Ice Age time."
(Everyone agrees that college sports won't return until campuses are re-opened for students to return and resume on-site classes.) Who are seeking waivers?
The five Group of 5 conferences -- the smaller FBS conferences -- want four-year waivers, while the 22 non-FBS conferences want two-year waivers with
an option to extend them to up to four years.
“A blanket waiver for relief will provide institutions the ability to make prudent and necessary decisions for the financial well-being
of the institution," the commissioners of the Group of Five said in a letter to Emmert on April 10. What's the response of the
The Intercollegiate Coach Association Coalition argues slashing opportunities for students in non-revenue sports -- 141,483 student-athletes participated in 2018-19
-- is not the solution.
It noted that graduation rates and donation rates in these sports are higher than their non-athletic peers, and they generated $3.6 billion in tuition and
fees to their universities, an amount nearly equal what it costs to provide opportunities to play collegiate sports.
On the waiver request, the non-revenue coaches group's position is:
"Reducing the minimum sports sponsorship requirement that would open the door to eliminating sports should not be an option. We are all in this together, and we are ready, eager, and willing
to partner with the NCAA to find creative solutions for the challenges to come. America’s students have had so much taken from them. Now is not the time to cut them off from yet another critical
institution that makes university life so special." Power 5 conferences (FBS):
*ACC, *Big Ten, Big-12, *Pac-12, SEC. Group of 5 conferences (FBS):
*American, *Conference USA, *Mid-American, Mountain West, *Sun Belt. Non-FBS conferences:
*America East, *Atlantic Sun, *Atlantic 10, *Big East, Big Sky, *Big South, *Big West, * CAA, *Ivy League, *Horizon,
*MAAC, Mid-Eastern, *Missouri Valley, *Northeast, Ohio Valley, *Patriot, *Southern, Southland, *Summit, SWAC, *WCC, *WAC.
*Sponsors men's soccer championship. Note:
All but the
Mid-Eastern sponsors a women's soccer championship.