Tag Archives: NCAA

Players backlash after NCAA changes D1 sports

In an attempt to make the game more spectator friendly, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has made dramatic changes to the format of Division I tennis.  The NCAA’s decision is sparking huge backlash on social media from Division I athletes, coaches and professional tennis players alike.

Under the changes, singles matches will no longer be played the best of three sets. Instead of a full third set, the players will instead play a ten-point super tie breaker to decide the match.  Doubles matches have also been shortened to one six game set instead of an eight game pro-set. Once two doubles matches from the same team have won their matches, all doubles matches will end, regardless of the score. The time players have between doubles and singles has also been reduced from ten minutes to five minutes. Changeovers have been reduced from 90 seconds to 60 seconds and warm-ups between opponents have been eliminated completely. There is also no-Ad scoring for men’s double matches.

These changes have been made not for the good of the game but to increase the amount of profit brought in by spectator viewership of the sport.

“The shortened format may provide exposure opportunities through television coverage, live streaming and local media coverage,” said the NCAA  “It is difficult and cost prohibitive for television to air a 4.5 hour college tennis match. In addition, it is very challenging for local media (television or print) to watch and cover an entire dual match. Therefore, the sport lacks local and national coverage, which will be improved with a format that consistently finishes within a three-hour time frame.”

However, altering the game to fit into a time slot on television is detrimental to the game itself. Tennis, in nature is not a fast-paced sport in the way sports like football and basketball are. Shortening matches is not going to be an effective way to broaden sports audiences because people who like tennis will watch tennis, regardless of the duration of time it takes to complete a match.

If the NCAA’s goal is to encourage more athletes to play college tennis with the intent of “going pro” after college, they are still missing the mark.  In professional tennis, women play a full three sets and men play five full sets.  Both women and men only play set tie-breakers, never match tie-breakers. The reduction of time for the matches is detrimental to athletes wanting to play professional tennis since the average tennis match can last anywhere from 3-5 hours on average.

“If college is used as developmental step for kids to then play on tour, it would help if it was the same scoring, obviously,” Rajeev Ram said, the current A.T.P. No. 100 in singles and No. 55 in doubles. Ram played one semester of college tennis at University of Illinois before turning professional in 2004.

“If I’m going into a match knowing that all I’ve got to do is win one set and then I’m into a breaker, I think I would play a little differently. And out here [in the professional circuit] that never happens,” Ram said.

The changes have sparked huge backlash from Division I athletes and coaches across the nation.

“This new NCAA tennis format is a total joke,” tweeted Aaron Pfister of Michigan State. “Beyond disappointed to hear about it. Changes the way matches will go 100%. #furious”

“Well looks like effective September 1st I can start eating all the burgers I want since I won’t be playing any three set matches,” tweeted Emina Bektas of the University of Michagan.

Even University of Georgia Coach, Manny Diaz was furious with the changes.

“Will kill our college game as we know it today” tweeted Diaz, later adding, “Or we could just flip a coin for doubles point.  That would shorten it. Don’t see baseball playing six innings or [basketball] three quarters.”

Legendary American tennis players like John McEnroe and up and coming U.S. players like John Isner and Sam Queery have also shown huge opposition to the changes even encouraging the repeal of the rules to no avail. The decision was reached by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (I.T.A.) during the I.T.A. Convention this past December and the changes have been officially made by the NCAA.

The changes apply to both men and women’s tennis and are affective in September 2014.

Camille Weber/Sports Columnist

Linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com

Celebrate the first Division III week on campus

April 8 is on the short list for best sports days of the year.

The men’s NCAA championship game between Louisville and Michigan, two fantastic and dynamic teams, will bring a wild, unpredictable and fabulous college basketball season to a close. Plus, the Seattle Mariners play their home opener (with Joe Saunders on the mound for the M’s. Joe Saunders! Feel the excitement).

But do you know what else happens tomorrow (who knew Mondays could be this exciting)? NCAA Division III week begins.

Did you know NCAA Division III week existed before I just told you now? I did not know about it until I received an invite via Facebook to attend. It turns out that this is the first Division III week in history.

According to Jeff Copeland from NCAA.org, “Division III week is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of student-athletes.”

More than 30 percent of Linfield students are student athletes so it is no secret that athletics are important to this school. If the school is to follow Copeland’s advice, the amount of celebration should be substantial all week long.

But at first glance, I felt that Division III week was not fair to the students at the school who do not play sports. After all, the majority of students, in fact, do not play sports here at Linfield. How come student-athletes should be celebrated while student-musicians, for example, should not?

Well, no specific week has been created for student-musicians or any other group. That is the simple answer. But the other answer is because of how deeply ingrained athletics are in our culture.

Although there are many things in life that are more important to survival than athletics, athletics give people an outlet for energy, passion and competitive spirit. Athletics can uplift a massive population, while inspiring an individual at the same time.

Athletics are also one of the only effective ways to connect different generations. Although athletes are bigger and stronger now, the games are played in the same manner. Time travel is begrudgingly impossible at the moment, but you could go to a baseball game in 1913 and the basic on-field rules would be the same as what you see today.

Athletics can be an engine for social change and political discussion. Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947, and the black power salute on the medal podium by Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Summer Olympics, come immediately to mind.

Athletics also give opportunities to people to have fun and build relationships and have experiences they never thought possible.

Copeland says that the NCAA national office will be focusing on its partnership with the Special Olympics during the week. Linfield will be exhibiting this partnership at 1 p.m. April 13 in the Ted Wilson Gymnasium. A Special Olympics basketball tournament will be held in the gym, and it costs just $3 to attend.

If you can, go and spend that $3. The people participating will be enjoying themselves through the power of athletics.

Although we should appreciate every student at Linfield at all times, NCAA Division III week makes more sense than I thought. It’s no wonder it is starting on one of the best sports days of the year.

Athletics are powerful so take a second this week if you can to appreciate the work our athletes put into their craft.

 

Tyler Bradley/ Sports columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

 

March Madness bracket regulations too strict

It’s that time of year again. The words “buzzer beater,” “upset,” “Cinderella” and “Final Four” permeate the American vernacular. Brackets are filled, tears are shed and legends are made.

If you are lucky enough, you can win a bracket competition and tell everybody that the victory came from an innate skill—after all, it was obvious Norfolk State would beat Missouri, wake up people—and win some excellent prizes. Awesome!

Unless you are a NCAA athlete, then it’s not OK to win anything at all.

Last week, Linfield students were reminded via email from Amy Dames Smith, the Linfield NCAA Compliance Coordinator, of a certain NCAA law that, according to the email, bans student-athletes from competing in “March Madness pools where there is a prize of tangible value on the line.”

When asked about the rule, freshman Catie Mets, a basketball player here at Linfield, said, “It kind of takes the fun out of making a bracket… a Division I team to us is basically no different from the NBA or NFL. There is absolutely no connection or conflict of interest.”

Mets does illuminate the necessity of this rule for Division I athletes. An athlete gambling on a competition where he or she also participates is problematic (just ask Pete Rose).

But how come athletes from other sports are banned from lucrative bracket competitions? How come Division II and III athletes—who have no connection to Division I March Madness at all—are banned from lucrative bracket competitions?

This makes no sense at all.

Sure, all athletes can still fill out a bracket, but winning something because of a bracket is one of the most satisfying feelings one can have.

“I’m torn. I recognize it’s an NCAA rule, and I have to obey, but as a basketball player, March takes on even more meaning for me…so to not be able to compete and enjoy brackets as a Division III athlete is kind of a slap in the face,” said junior Jake Hillyer, a Linfield basketball player.

Bracket competitions abound, privately and publicly, across the country. The grand prize for the online ESPN Tournament Challenge, for example, is a $10,000 gift card to Best Buy.

Do you know what the grand prize is for the NCAA because of the NCAA tournament?

$797 million. This is the total income for this year from the media rights agreement by the NCAA, CBS sports and Turner Broadcasting. Next year, the total will increase by about 2 percent.

The popularity of major college sports is undeniable and always growing. TV deals will not go away.

Look no further than the newly formed PAC-12 conference. After signing a 12-year, $3 billion TV deal with Fox and ESPN, the PAC-12 networks began last August and will provide around $30 million annually to each school.

This money is possible because people want to watch the athletes, not because they appreciate the business acumen of the NCAA.

And yet, an athlete from Linfield or any other Division III school can’t win money or prizes by filling out a bracket?

This does not make any sense to me.

The hypocrisy of the NCAA is well documented. It hides behind a faulty banner that says, “student-athletes are amateurs,” while filling its pockets with $797 million.

The student-athletes provide the work and the entertainment and get paid zero dollars.

The hypocrisy is not restricted to the NCAA tournament of course. The infamous Terrelle Pryor, for example, and other Ohio State football players traded memorabilia for free tattoos, and the players received suspensions.

How much does a tattoo cost? I guarantee it doesn’t cost $50 million—which is roughly the total revenue the Ohio State football team generates per year. So, why does the NCAA care about smaller benefits? Why does the NCAA care about gambling in Division III?

According to a study conducted by the NCAA (conflict of interest) in 2008, 36.9 percent of male student-athletes in Division III wager on sports. Oh no, the shame!

The study found that 22.4 percent of male student-athletes in Division I wagered on sports. This makes sense, considering Division III students have less to lose, and they don’t participate in sports that generate gobs of revenue for the NCAA.

But the NCAA investigating the gambling habits of student-athletes and presenting the data as a problem is hypocritical.

Student-athletes should be able to gamble on sports if they want to. The NCAA wants to pretend that gambling shouldn’t exist, but guess what?

Gambling will always exist when the games continue to play, and the NCAA will continue cashing checks, while the games continue to play.

The NCAA should not be able to pretend its gambling restrictions are morally correct until the NCAA eliminates the hypocrisy of its own business.

If gambling is illegal for all student-athletes, Division I, II and III, then shouldn’t players see some of the $797 million from the NCAA and athletic departments?

In the meantime, Division III student-athletes will fill out brackets for the Division I tournament and miss out on winning money and enjoying the March Madness experience, and the leaders of the NCAA will pop $797 million worth of champagne. Champagne that is subsidized by the skills of the athletes it punishes for trying to win money…from the very same tournament.

So, while Cinderella stories and buzzer beaters and upsets will occur on the road to the Final Four, just as they always do, the NCAA will bathe in cash while NCAA athletes across the country lose an opportunity to make some cash.

This makes no sense at all.

Tyler Bradley

Sports columnist

Tyler Bradley can be reached at

linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Wildcats drop double overtime

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In double overtime, senior tailback Taylor Avritt fumbled the ball away on the Tommie 3-yard line, and Linfield left Minnesota with a 17-24 loss and its playoff hopes dashed in a nail-biting finish against the St. Thomas University on Nov. 27.
Before the kickoff of Linfield football’s second-round playoff game on the road against the St. Thomas Tommies, www.d3football.com analysts billed the showdown as what could have been one of the postseason’s best.
Those expectations were met in dramatic fashion. After four quarters of play failed to deliver a winner of the game, two more overtimes were needed to determine the outcome.
Avritt, who stepped into a major role in the game after senior starting tailback Simon Lamson left the game due to an injury, played a solid game up to that point with 68 yards rushing, including a key 28-yard burst in the second half.
“The outcome of the game was a pretty terrible event for me personally,” Avritt said. “A lot of people offered words of encouragement, ranging from teammates to fans to parents.”
Early on, long before two overtimes were needed, the game was every bit the battle it was predicted to be. St. Thomas had its way with Linfield early, as junior quarterback Dakota Tracy marched his team down the field on the Tommies’ game-opening drive before handing the ball off to junior running back Colin Tobin for a 1-yard score.
The Wildcat offense faltered early, with senior quarterback Aaron Boehme getting dropped for two back-to-back sacks on the next possession.
The defense of the two teams would set the tone for the entire contest, and neither team scored for the remainder of the first period. Both teams combined for six sacks for a total of 51 lost yards.
“They were definitely the best team we faced defensively, so that is always an adjustment you have to make,” Boehme said. “They are a loaded team defensively with their talent.”
St. Thomas struck again at the top of the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Tim Albright to extend the home team’s lead to 10-0. With their backs against the ropes, the defense needed a stand and got it in the form of junior middle linebacker Christian Hanna. Hanna intercepted a Tracy pass and returned it 50 yards all the way to the Tommie 22-yard line.
Deep in St. Thomas territory, Boehme and the offense finally found the end zone on a 2-yard toss to senior
receiver Chris Slezak.
Boehme finished the day with an odd bunch of statistics: 24-46 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The number of attempted passes was uncharacteristically high for Boehme, which he attributes to St. Thomas’ stingy defense.
“We really didn’t play well in the first half on offense,” Boehme said. “We were forced to throw the ball a little more in the second half-more than we would have liked.”
On the next Tommies series, junior safety Drew Fisher read Tracy like a book and snatched another pass out of the air for the Wildcat defense. After a 14-yard return and a 15-yard facemask penalty against St. Thomas, Linfield found itself deep in Tommies territory once again, but this time couldn’t convert in the red zone.
The ’Cats settled for a 27-yard field goal by freshman kicker Jordan Walker to tie the score at 10 points.
Fisher made another spectacular interception on the following St. Thomas drive to end the half.
“I think this game displayed the defensive backs as a whole getting more opportunities to make plays on the ball,” Fisher said. “They knew they weren’t going to be able to hold onto the ball against us without taking sacks, which created more errant throws, and then I was able to beat my receiver.”
In the second half, with momentum in their favor, Linfield seemed poised to run away with the game and move into the national quarterfinals. However, the Wildcats struggled in the red zone, and they wouldn’t end up scoring again until their need was absolutely desperate.
The ’Cats, on 19 plays within the St. Thomas 25-yard line in the second half, only gained a net 15 yards, and Boehme threw eight incompletions. Walker also missed a pair of feasible field goals from 33 and 30 yards.
“There were two factors that caused the struggle in the red zone: poor offensive execution on our part and strong defensive execution on St. Thomas’ part,” Avritt said. “Either our offensive game plan didn’t seem to manipulate their red zone defense as well, or our offensive execution wasn’t able to outplay their defense.”
Junior rover Kole Kreiger breathed some life into his team by picking off Tracy for the team’s fourth interception.
In the middle of the fourth quarter on a 12-yard run by Tobin, and with only two minutes to go in the game, Boehme mounted one final, desperate drive to save the Wildcats’ season. He delivered accounting for every yard of a 64-yard march and tied the game on a 7-yard strike to senior receiver Buddy Saxon.
“It was a gutsy comeback at the end for our team,” Fisher said.
In the first overtime, Walker missed another field goal, this one from a difficult distance of 47 yards. The ’Cats’ defense immediately forced a fumble to snuff out the Tommies’ first attempt and sent the game into a sixth period. That’s when tragedy struck, with Tracy finally finding the end zone on a 10-yard pass into the corner of the end zone.
After Avritt’s fumble sealed the game, Linfield’s season came to a crashing end.
However, the players took it in stride and recognized the success they achieved that day and throughout the
season.
“I have no regrets or hard feelings toward this game,” junior middle linebacker Kala’e Parish said. “Every player gave it their best effort and nothing less. The game of football is fun, and being in situations such as double overtime makes the game an incredible sport to play. We had a rough start in the beginning of this season, but all of our hard work seemed to pay off in the end in a game like this.”

Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Wisconsin welcomes Wildcats for World Series

Photo by Duc Hoang - Freelancer

Photo by Duc Hoang - Freelancer

Photo by Duc Hoang - Freelancer

Photo by Duc Hoang - Freelancer

Photo by Duc Hoang - Freelancer

For the second time in three years, the Wildcats are heading to the NCAA Division III World Series in Appleton, Wis., after cruising to a 12-3 victory against the Mississippi College Choctaws in the McMinnville Regional championship on May 22.

After falling to Pomona-Pitzer on May 20, Linfield faced early elimination, but three straight wins earned the Wildcats their first West Regional title.

The Wildcat pitching staff held opposing batters to a .173 batting average during the final three matchups, while Linfield’s offense outscored its counterparts 28-3.

Senior Reese McCulley sparked the three-game streak, posting 10 strikeouts and allowing just four hits against Chapman University on May 21.

Senior shortstop Kelson Brown led the Linfield offense with two doubles and three RBIs, while senior center fielder Tyson Smith and sophomore left fielder Zach Boskovich each tallied an RBI.

In the sixth and eighth innings, junior third baseman Dustin Smith earned free passes before Brown belted doubles to right-center field, scoring Smith all the way from first base.

The ’Cats’ big inning came in the top of the ninth after they loaded the bases with one out. Tyson Smith drove in one run on a fielder’s choice to second base, and then senior second baseman Ryan Larson crossed the plate on a wild pitch, extending Linfield’s lead to six runs.

Linfield’s win earned them a rematch against Pomona-Pitzer the same day for a chance to advance to the regional championship.

Junior Robert Vaughn nearly broke the program’s single-game strikeout record, fanning 13 batters in just seven innings pitched.

The Wildcat offense provided early insurance for Vaughn, posting seven runs in the first two innings.

In the first, Linfield capitalized on two errors by ____ shortstop _____ Kang, scoring three unearned runs. Larson drove in the fourth score of the frame with an RBI single to left field.

With the top of the order coming up in the second inning, the Wildcats recorded three runs with two outs, including RBIs from Boskovich, senior first baseman Rhett Fenton and senior catcher Mitch Webb. Linfield sealed the win in the eighth inning with three more runs.

The ’Cats faced Mississippi College for the championship on May 22, and they came out swinging.

In the first three innings, Linfield tallied seven runs on five hits, jumping to a 7-3 lead. Three errors by the Choctaws allowed the Wildcats to put up four runs, while Brown, Boskovich and Tyson Smith drove in the other three.

In the top of the sixth inning, Dustin Smith did something that no Linfield batter had done the entire postseason, belting a home run over the left-field wall to give the ’Cats an 8-3 advantage.

Linfield’s powerful offense came to life in the eighth inning after Bixenman teed off on a two-run blast with two outs. Boskovich followed suit with a home run of his own, which was followed by the ninth bomb of the season by Fenton.

Larson picked up his 11th win of the season and second of the tournament after allowing three runs and 11 hits.

Tyson Smith earned the Tournament Most Outstanding Player after recording a .524 batting average, 10 runs and seven stolen bases.

Linfield will face the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the New England Regional champion, on May 28 for the first round of the national tournament.

Grant Lucas
Freelancer Grant Lucas can be reached linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com