TheOpenMat.com

To Be or Not To Be – NCAA Wrestling Part 1

ncaanew

In our teaser article we alluded to the fact that we think the NCAA may not be the best thing in the world for wrestling. We could have taken that a step further and suggested that it may not be the best thing for most sports, but that would be off topic.

It was interesting to see that those who took the time to read the article were able to start drawing their own conclusion as to where we are headed with this. Well for the most part people were correct. We are not fans of the NCAA, but before we make the case that wrestling should have nothing to do with it, we want to explore all of the pros and cons of the options we have. Now we fully understand that the comments, suggestions and points of view we express in this series are just that.

We first plan on looking at the NCAA itself. Before any of you start huffing and puffing please make note that we acknowledge that we may miss some things etc… But do plan on digging as deep as possible. Just running some rough numbers (some data is missing, which we can not find as of yet) wrestling has loss 43 DI programs in the past 20 years and 80 programs in the 20 years prior to that. As we said there is some missing data which would increase these numbers. If that trend were to continue (rough math) we would stand to lose at least another 20 programs in the next 20 years. That would give us less the 60 DI programs nationwide.

Our first point is that all the rough data tells us that we are headed for extinction. The one conclusion we can draw is that division I wrestling has been headed down the wrong path for over 40 years. We have barely slowed it down.

In this segment we will lay the ground work as it relates to the NCAA. We will pose some questions and try to induce discussion. In the second segment related to the NCAA we will try and provide more statistical data to address our questions and make our case as to why we should stay on the NCAA bandwagon or look at alternative solutions.

The NCAA has the following statement on their website:

THE NCAA’s CORE PURPOSE IS TO govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.

This is a pretty standard statement for such an organization. But, does anyone really believe it? Do we all believe that the student-athlete experience is paramount for the NCAA? Let’s cut to the chase, the NCAA is all about two things, Money and Power. When is the last time you read a statement from the NCAA Representative for wrestling on their concern for the athletes who programs were dropped? When is the last time you have heard anything from this representative? Wrestling does not make money for them, thus making it very expendable.

The first thing we have to do as a community is look at this topic from our own self interest. We need to be selfish and really explore what is best for our sport. The NCAA will not do that for us, that’s a guarantee.

What are the questions we need to ask? First and foremost we need to determine the exact benefits we receive by being part of the NCAA. What are the financial incentives if any? Are we as a fan base so attached to the name “NCAA National Championships” that would tune out “National College Championships”? We do not think fans would be all that upset. The idea is that we want to know who the best college wrestler is at each weight. We would not suspect that the tournament would be any less exciting.

We know that the initial argument is that fans would leave it was not “The Iowa Hawkeyes”. That may or may not be true. But what we need to figure out is there a way that we can reduce the financial burden of the institutions and avoid the Title IX while maintaining an attachment to the institution for the sake of brand recognition.

So this year the NCAA projects 757 million in revenue. Of that amount 452 million is to be distributed to DI members. Of that amount 180 million is dedicated specifically to basketball so that leaves 390 million. What we could not deduce was how much of that gets dedicated for each sport and or what the individual sports generate and or lose.

Currently football accounts for 63% of all male athletes at the DI level. We all know that by using football in relation to Title IX does not help things. Currently for individual sports men average 9 scholarships versus women who average 10 scholarships per sport. The average expense for all sports is 15 million per year with football accounting for 5 million of that total.

Below are some pros and cons from our perspective.

Pros

  • Branding
  • Affiliation with a group that has strong relationships with national media
  • Some kind of revenue sharing although we are not sure how much wrestling actually see’s
  • A stable governing body.
  • Attachment and access to the schools resources

Cons

  • Restrictive rules that effect scholarships, number of coaches and more.
  • No real support as a non-revenue sport
  • Title IX issues
  • Hundreds of out dated rules that directly affect the student athlete. (See Jake Deitchler)
  • Zero support or assistance in preserving our sport
  • At the mercy of their decisions.

These are just a few off the top of our heads. Please let us know your thoughts.

In the next part of this series we will look at how wrestling fits into some of the numbers we have listed. How much on average does it cost to support a DI wrestling team? How much revenue does the NCAA Championships Generate? These are just a few of the things will explore.

Ok, enough of the statistical stuff. We want to hear from you. What do you believe to be the value of the NCAA in relation to wrestling? Please post your comments. Then we want to hear what you believe the disadvantages to be. If it seems like we are not giving solid concrete opinions, you would be correct. That is by design as we move through things we want to hear back from you. We assure you that as we start to get to the later half of the series we will have plenty of opinions.