Icata Alea Est….The Die Is Cast

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It was reported that on January 10th 49 BCE Suetonis said to Julius Caesar, “Icata Alea Est,” as he led is forces across the Rubicon in northern Italy in defiance of the Senate. There is nothing that can stop the inevitable. Similarly, the Big Ten athletic conference deferred all fall sports to the spring, making  almost all Olympic Sports, in particular Field Hockey,  fall short of the 50% guideline for a NCAA championship season.

As I had opined last Friday, the action by the Mid American Conference moved Division one field hockey into failing to get the needed 39 to stage an NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The move by the Big Ten assures that Field Hockey will have enough competitions in the spring ( should they play) to stage that tournament.

The one remaining field hockey playing conference to go, is the ACC, which is being held hostage by Football,  along with several other power five conferences are  insisting on playing this fall. In the case of field hockey, who will the ACC be playing??  No doubt each other, and will that make them ineligible for a spring NCAA championship?? At the moment, they are being held prisoner by their football playing brethren.

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The NCAA has almost made their leadership ineffective, as they played no role in the Big Ten ( and Pac 12) action. Some Ivy League schools may still not have enough student athletes to field a team so the moves yesterday made it more likely the 39 team limit could be met this spring.

My hope is Lafayette has begun planning for the spring, to allow the next phase to happen. As it stands now, there will be about 700 students on campus this fall. There are 4-5 months now to plan and insure that the spring population is sufficient to resume all activities. GO PARDS!!

Mid American Cancels Fall Sports

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The mid American Conference of which the field hockey playing schools are Appalachian  State, Ball State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, Central Michigan, and Longwood, announced the canceling of all fall sports!! These seven schools will bring the number of schools not playing this fall to 40 assuming Louisville will return after their quarantine. Since there are 78 Division one schools and the NCAA has stated if more that 50% if the eligible schools don’t play, there will be no NCAA championship this fall.

In my opinion, all the remaining schools should bag the fall season and play a full series of games this spring. It solves a lot of eligibility issues and gives time to reschedule 16 or 18 games, in other words a full season!!!

In this crazy season that might be too logical to happen….but maybe!!!

It’s All In The Numbers Now

As September approaches under normal circumstances, I would be going over rosters and schedules, and discussing who has the upper hand for a League and even an NCAA bid. But it has all come down to the numbers, as to whether they will even be an NCAA champion this fall.

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All three division committees met yesterday and made decisions on whether, or under what circumstances an NCAA tournament would be played. Divison 2 and 3 were simple enough. There will be no champion period this fall in all sports, Olympic or otherwise. Most of these schools have already cancelled fall sports all together.

But Division one is still being held hostage by the power 5 schools who desperately need to play football. The protocol seems to be, if football is played the other sports will play.. However, all schools don’t play all sports. The power 5 football schools have a huge investment in playing games which generate large amounts of cash and television fees. For the most part, they have decided to play each other and replicate that strategy for their Olympic sports, including field hockey.

The Division one committee has stated that if 50% of the eligible sports are not playing there would be no national Division one tournament. The NCAA has already reduced in half the number of games to qualify, but there are 78 schools playing field hockey which means 39 must be playing to have a final national tournament. At the present time 34 schools are NOT playing according to my information, meaning if 5 undecideds change there is no NCAA tournament this fall.

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

The most vulnerable conferences who might call off the fall are the Mid-American Conference and the NEC. A decision must be made by Aug 14. If either one call the fall off, there will be no tournament.

One little potential problem is individual schools could decide to call off conference schedules. Louisville did just that yesterday despite their membership in the ACC. Connecticut dropped football for the fall but keeps field hockey, as they are independent in football and a member of the Big East in field hockey.

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The number 12 is the number of scholarship equivalencies Div 1 field hockey teams are allowed to have on their roster. By August the 15th schools must decide what the status of their program will be and therefore what that status of their athletes will be. Will they declare as a redshirt for coming semester to preserve an extra year of eligibility??  What will that do to the amount of scholarships any team can offer to incoming recruits?? Will the NCAA temporarily raise the ceiling on scholarships due to the crisis? I am told by college officials the PL would accommodate those who want the extra year due to the emergency.

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Leopards get ready in Maroon Club weight training center!!

As most of you who have been reading this blog know, I am not a great fan of the NCAA. I am especially critical of the Division one group, since they seem to be a prisoner of the power 5 conferences. We shall see if they can come to a rational place at the “end of the day.”

Given where Lafayette is I am hoping that the fall season is cancelled now for everyone, and played in the spring in its entirety. It fixes the eligibility question for most and gives student athletes a chance for some normalcy.

Stone Adds Scott Tupper To Staff

The Covid Virus. may have frozen the Lafayette field hockey season, but Head Coach Jennifer Stone is not standing still, as she added Canadian Field Hockey star Scott Tupper to next year’s staff. Scott is a player with international and olympic credentials. Not only was he a member of Canada’s national team since 2005, but was it’s captain. He has played in 312 games in his career, and appeared in two Olympics. two World Cups, four Pan Am tournaments, three Pan Am Cups and 3 Commonwealth Games.

Stone was excited to announce Scott’s appearance on College Hill. “Scott is world class, and will have an immediate impact on our players.” He has also played for German, Dutch and Belgium club teams.

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Tupper has been coaching recently in Vancouver, coincidently the home of several Leopard stars. Scott was not shy about his ambitions for Lafayette. ” I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to join the Lafayette Field Hockey program, and help build on the great work that’s already been done by Coach Stone. I can’t wait to get started, and help the program achieve continued success in both the Patriot League and the NCAA.”

He was the second youngest member of the Canadian squad that went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 8 years later was captain of the same squad in the Rio Olympics in 2016.

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Scott started playing the sport at age 6 and preferred it to baseball deeming hockey much more active. By grade 12 he was on the junior national team and it was then he realized it would be his career.  He enjoys reading and watching football and hockey, earned a BA from the University of British Columbia and a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.  His nickname is “Tupps,” and his favorite motto is ” Good enough isn’t good enough….”

I would certainly like to be a fly on the wall, when he is introduced to the team for the first time!!

Welcome to the land of Leopards…Tupps!!

Lisa van der Geest Makes History With A Clean Sweep of Awards

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Lisa van der Geest delivers the ball downfield

Lisa van der Geest became the first student athlete in Lafayette history to receive all three awards given by the end of the year. Last fall she received the Maroon Club Scholar Athlete award, and last night received the Class of 1913 Trophy for the senior scholar athlete, and the Charles L. Albert ’08 award for best senior athlete. The international affairs major was an all league, all region and all American selection. Rather than focus on the awards, which she humbly accepted in a recorded message last night, I would like to recall my impressions of her impact on the field.

She was the field general for this team, filling the position of center back, the equivalent of quarterback in American football. She was the extra coach on the field, and I am told spent time with the younger players helping them as well!! Lisa was an inspiration to her teammates, almost never leaving the field of play. As the League defensive player of the year, she also was a key part of Lafayette’s offensive corner battery.

She never gave up and made sure her team always had their head in the game. While most people would recognize this entire class as exceptional, she represented the soul of that class. She was a key contributor in most every game.

Justifiably, she credited her teammates and coaches, but especially her parents who traveled several times from Holland to see her play, and certainly watched via video often times late at night.

My most vivid memory was her last game, scoring her last goal in the Patriot League Championship game.  Although, the team didn’t win, her goal with 47 seconds left to bring the Leopards within one goal, lifted all of us. The game was not over and I still dream of the possibilities. But her efforts in the closing minutes of that game was Lisa..never conceding defeat!!

I can’t imagine what the future holds for Lisa, but I feel confident, in less than ten years from now, we will see her on the podium at Lafayette being inducted to the Athletic Hall of Fame!!

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Cam Costello played key roles in during the season

Field Hockey was well represented as Cam Costello, Lafayette  midfielder was nominated for the 1913 trophy also. An obvious star in the classroom, she was also a key reason for the success of the field hockey team this year. My impressions of her “gleefully” make her presence known to her opponents will stay with me. She scored the opening goal in the championship game to give the Leopards and early 1-0 lead!! Her parents were in regular attendance and gave obvious support to this excellent student athlete.

Where Is The Next Miracle Coming From?

 

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Last night, my wife and I watched the movie “Miracle,” about the 1980 gold medal run from our Olympic Ice Hockey Team. The parallels were disturbing. The country and the world was caught in a malaise, as President Carter described it. There were Americans being held hostage in Iran, gas prices were in the stratosphere, if you stood in line for hours to get it. Inflation was out of control, and we in the midst of a presidential election. Maybe its time for all of us to at least cinematically relive the moment.

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The iconic game between the US and the Soviet Union became a fixation for America. The Soviet Union was the best team in the World, having even beaten a team of NHL all stars. The US team was not the “dream” team we are now accustomed to today, but a team of 21 year old college players picked more for their ability to mix as a team rather than those that had individual skills. In the movie, the players were asked by their coach to describe themselves, they answered by their name and college team played for. Near the end of the film, they described themselves rather as a player for the USA.

I mourn for the athletes of today for missing the experience of being a team. But I also mourn for the people in the stands who identify with the “team.” It must be hard for people to imagine the uplift that game was for the United States at that time. The chants of USA USA still echo in the back of my mind as I sadly watch the news today!!

I have always liked team sports over individual sports, and encouraged my own children to play at least one team sport to experience the shared efforts towards a goal. I believe the need is still here in our country and the world, unfortunately I believe our college leaders have either  forgotten or never understood that need for a civilized society. Maybe this pause will be short lived, but in the interim we have lost something important in the life and soul in our world. Sad.

 

You Can Put A Fork In It!

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Anna Steps gets by a Lehigh defender

The last hopes of any kind of fall season evaporated last week as more conferences announced, ” suspensions, postponements, and cancellations” basically putting an end to any reasonable championship season this fall. The NCAA administrators have yet to come out of their bomb shelter to give any leadership regarding a spring season much less any other guidance besides occasional medical socialization suggestions. I suppose they are ducking any confrontation with the football playing power five as the hundreds of millions at stake for those schools seems to be at risk.

Technically, it looks like it’s still possible for the ACC and Big Ten to play each other in field hockey,  but I expect that will make the fall season look like a weak ghost of a spring season. Speaking of the spring, it looks as though that is still possible but there is no coordinated effort to organize it as a regular season. There is speculation everything will be moved to the spring, but how that is done with some schools  having smaller student populations making it difficult to field any sort of team. Princeton for example will have only seniors in residence this spring.

I still wish all the leagues would have waited for a final decision later in the summer, but I get the feeling the people running the place wanted the athletic question off the table as they tackle the problem of virtual vs real life instruction during the school year. At Lafayette it appears it will be a hybrid of sorts. Questions still remain about extensions of eligibility, scholarship issues, and gap years for incoming freshman. My own research from senior officials at Lafayette is that extensions for a fifth year will be allowed, even under current Patriot League rules.

Will basketball be played??!! Not likely, since play inside an enclosed area are more problematic than an outside event. If the spring is an option for fall sports how will support resources be allocated???

This disruption may cause a major restructuring of higher education, as I am hearing of  schools with strong brands are opening up, “virtually” for a larger number of  students. This is definitely happening right now, at the graduate level. It brings in revenue while making, for the first time, higher education more efficient. It won’t be long before that business model creeps into the undergraduate level, reducing those 75,000 dollar price tags. In athletics, we have already seen some reduction in the number of sports being offered. We might see more regional conference structures on a sport by sport basis. The Patriot League seems well positioned, but should be open to accept new members on a sport by sport basis!

Interesting times!!

Patriot League and Patriot League Schools Struggle With Season Cancellation Consequences

We “may” have fall sports compete in the spring, was a simple enough phrase, however, the entire list of consequences of moving fall sports to the spring to student athletes, whether they are beginning their hoped for athletic journey, or ending, after after three years of hard work deserve answers. I was asked a question by a player from another Patriot League School, about the league extending a fifth year to those players losing a season.  The NCAA has allowed the fifth year, but what is the League position? A senior athletic official in a PL school said to me the League rules state that for situations beyond the control of a student athlete, a fifth year will be allowed. That official opined COVID would fall into that category, and student athletes should consult their compliance officers regarding that action.

There a myriad of other questions that deserve to be answered sooner, rather than later:

1. In a fifth year will scholarships be continued, and the NCAA needs to answer whether will scholarship team limits be relaxed?

2. In the event the Ivy and Patriot League are the only Division One schools to halt fall sports,  will spring practice and competition rules be demanded by the NCAA?

3. If an athlete decides to transfer, will the one year waiting transfer rule be enforceable?

4. Will gap years be permitted for all athletes?

The implications of the Patriot League and the Ivy League being the only Leagues without fall competition, begs the question as to who they will play and when. For individual schools, how will resources be rationed. ( Training personnel, field time on sites that host multiple sports, and priorities associated with weather and wear and tear on fields).

Each school has different resources to bring to the table not everyone has 40 plus billion dollars in endowment like Harvard.

I still believe this was a hasty, ill considered action by the Patriot League presidents. If it was well considered, those answers to the above questions would be readily available. They should have waited for the rest of Divison one ( especially the ones sponsoring Olympic sports ) to come to a considered solution. There was. no reason to be the second through the door with no one behind you!

Ok Now What……Again

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I kind of wear my opinions on my sleeve, so if you have been reading my articles you’re probably going to know how I feel about the cancelling of fall sports. First of all the unanimity of the Patriot League decision is a myth. There are 12 football playing schools in the conference, four have decided to continue with fall “olympic” sports, Army, Navy, Georgetown, and Fordham. Army and Navy as full members will continue all sports, Georgetown is a member of the Big East and they will continue their olympic sports in  that league and Fordham is in the A-10 and will play all sports except football this fall.

So if the situation were so dire and obvious about having a soccer or field hockey game this fall why, are these schools deciding to play on outside of the league?  Now, I may be proven wrong but recent testing by schools, especially in the Northeast are getting favorable results ( eg. UConn reported yesterday O cases out of 200 tested). Even those who had reported cases, those persons are isolated and recovering, showing the wisdom of the 6 week “resocialization” period prescribed by the NCAA.

Getting back to Field Hockey, if the Patriot League and the Ivy League remain as the only conferences not playing this fall, there will be a NCAA tournament with most likely 3 open slots in the 16 team field for that championship tournament.

That leaves the spring. There are still regulations in place that would NOT allow a full practice and game schedule this spring. So who would the IVY and Patriot League play in that case? How many athletes would choose a gap year rather than a half hearted spring season? Would the Patriot League allow red shirt years for athletes that choose to sit it out? Would scholarship limits be adjusted to account for those returning players and a new freshman class??

The Patriot League should have either left participation up to the individual school or moved the reporting  date back to allow for resocialization to take place and time to reassess the risks. I do realize there would be some additional expense involved and maybe that’s the real crux of the decision?!

PL To Cancel All Fall Sports

In a message to supporters AD Sherrytta Freeman confirmed early reports that ALL fall sports will be cancelled. She did hold out the chance that some sports could be played in the spring…..I would not hold your breath.

Several weeks ago the League published a plan to return to the fields this fall. Apparently , the League presidents..after more consideration decided otherwise. It’s sad day!! Unclear whether the service academies will follow along!!

 

Addendum: Service academies will continue to play all fall sports!!! UCONN opened and tested over 150 athletes…all negative for the virus. HUH!!!