Where I Stand

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We have now reached what would have been mid-season for collegiate field hockey. High Schools have begun to play, collegiate players are playing pick up games in private turf fields and the NCAA has outlined a plan for a spring season for division one field hockey and an NCAA championship. We cannot forget there is one division one conference playing, the ACC, who has had two weekends under their belt without incident.

I also note that infection rates are significantly below one percent and in the Patriot League in particular the majority of reporting schools are showing infection rates below 1/4 of one percent. In the case of Bucknell for the last two weeks their have been no new cases of Covid 19. In the case of Lehigh, there has been a contact alarm ( with non athletes) that led the Mountain Hawks to suspend athletic practices already in progress. They are expected to resume by next week without any reported infections by athletes. Army and Navy of course continue to play all sports without incident!

Patriot League schools have reported executing from 150,000 ( Boston), to 27,000, (Bucknell), 7,000 ( Holy Cross and Lehigh), to 1400 (Lafayette) tests. Lafayette reports under 1/2 of one percent infections. No school that I can see has reported any fatalities.

The Patriot League president’s council has met several times under chair President Byerly without an announcement, even for basketball season. There has been one report from a competent reporter at CBS sports that the proposal on the table is to play basketball only within the League starting Jan 1, eliminating all non-conference games.

President Byerly has promised through multiple town halls and multiple zoom meetings to have definitive answers by Oct 20 regarding the second semester, presumably including sports.

Virtually every Conference has agreed with the NCAA plans for the spring which in include a spring season for field hockey. I assume Army, Navy, Lehigh, Bucknell, Boston and even Holy Cross are for spring sports. To me, that means a sure majority for spring season for fall sports. What does that mean for Lafayette?

Given the known infection rates and the inclination of our Patriot League cohort, I see great danger for Lafayette not to at least prepare for a spring season. It appears that the Ivy League will not have that spring season because they are not returning all four classes. Not the case for the Patriot League. Not returning all classes could expose a Lafayette inability or unwillingness to deal with the virus like the rest of Patriot League. Ivy envy in this case would not serve Lafayette’s interest for athletics or its general student population today and in the future.

If the Patriot League were to dictate no sports for the remainder of the year the League would certainly risk the loss of the service academies……a disaster by any measure.

So I come to the conclusion that the League and Lafayette should plan to open and allow practices, plans can always be changed but be prepared!!! As for our team, they are already practicing at Spooky Nook, the Proving Grounds, clubs in other cities, and European Clubs. Why we can’t bring our team back to live, learn and practice escapes me!

President Byerly Submits Resignation

As I was typing this I received an email that President Byerly has submitted her resignation effective at the end of her contract year, this coming June.

Sources Report To CBS Patriot League To Start Basketball Jan 1

Jon Rothstein is a basketball insider for CBS sports since 2010 and a correspondent for WFAN and CBS sports radio. He reports that the league will not play its out of conference games and begin a non conference schedule on Jan 1. His information, he states, is from multiple sources.

I expect the desire to start was overwhelming to the minority who were not prepared to start play. There was no official announcement from the Patriot League office or Lafayette College/

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NCAA Outlines Division One Basketball Return

Patriot League Needs To Act

In an announcement yesterday, the NCAA has announced the return of Division One basketball. Games will start on November 25, presumably when most students are completing their academic semester of classroom work. There will be maximum of 27 games, a minimum of 13, no scrimmages, and a recommendation for 4 out of conference games. Full team practices can begin Oct 14, although most schools in the Patriot League are already having conditioning and individual instruction.

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There are about 150 student athletes on campus, I do not know how many per individual sports, except for field hockey of which there are four. Football, I hear have about 35 on campus. Bucknell, Boston, and Colgate are having all classes returned, and I have seen social media pictures of athletes at practice on campus. In field hockey, I have seen pictures of BU, Bucknell, American and Lehigh on their practice fields.

In other news, the BIG TEN is returning to play football, and there is limited activity in the other sports.There are limited connections to play field hockey with other Big Ten schools in much the same way a spring season would be constructed. Many players have gone to Europe to play for the semester while doing their academic work online. I know of one Ivy school that got their whole freshman field hockey class to play in Europe. The ACC is playing inter-league.

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

I have not yet heard of any Patriot League meetings to announce a return of basketball but I did get a head fake, as the move to ESPN plus was announced dramatically yesterday. I would hope the Patriot League would now more expeditiously move in light of the NCAA’s announcement.

Covid testing at Lafayette, Bucknell, Colgate,Lehigh, and Boston University has shown about a 2/10’s of one percent Covid infection rate among the returning and all students in residence.

It seems the time is now for the Patriot League to act.

NCAA To Set Spring Championships For Fall Sports

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Within a week the NCAA will set the dates and format for fall sports moved to the spring season. Although there are other rules to be decided on as there are some schools like the ACC that are still trying to play this fall with no championships. Will they be be allowed to participate in a spring NCAA Championship. ( the answer is probably).

In any case, these are the proposed championship dates:

SPORT   OLD BRACKET. NEW BRCKET  AQ./at Large  DATES

Cross C        N/A.                255 per gender.   N/A          3/15/2021

Field Hockey  16                12                           10/2.        5/7-5/9/2021

Men’s Soccer.  48                36                           24/12.      5/13-5/17/21

Women’s Soc.  64                 48                          31/17.      5/13-5/17/21

W. Volleyball.  64                 48                           32/16.     4/23-4/25/21

It behooves the Patriot League to begin discussions on returning to the practice field. No doubt it depends on the course of the virus but recent results from many schools show good control of the virus on campus. Colgate, Bucknell, Boston University, Army, and Navy have universal testing and the results are encouraging with positive results at only 2/10 of one percent. Even at Lafayette, with a less aggressive testing protocol, have results well under one percent through the end of August.

What is happening is a disproportionate residency on campus’ between the schools. For example, Lehigh reports that 87 out of 89 football players are on campus participating in conditioning and limited drills. There are also a significant number of field hockey  players who were able to practice on the field according instagram photos this past weekend.

Lafayette players are certainly playing where they can, at clubs, who are operating and overseas it has been reported that our players are playing for their local club teams. I hope those players in country are busy honing their skills and fitness in preparation for a spring return.

So here is my plea to Lafayette, it looks to me like there will be a majority of Patriot League schools that will want to return this spring. NOW is not too early to begin formulating those plans. Their mission is to serve the student athlete and they deserve the chance to play. It’s time to get ready!!!

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Meanwhile, FIH is restarting its schedule and the US Team will soon start practice. Their first game will not occur until April at venues to be announced

Now Is The Time To Prepare Fall Sports For the Spring Season

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The D1 Football Championship Committee has met and recommended the FCS championships be played April 18- May 15. (Lafayette is an FCS school in football). The brackets have been reduced to 16 teams from 24. The championship field will be 10 auto bids and and 6 at large bids, similar to field hockey. The NCAA football oversight committee will meet this week to consider the new format and date.

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Once football is established, the other fall olympic sports will most certainly follow. The NCAA has established a mandatory “socialization” period of six weeks which consists of strength and conditioning, individual instruction and, position instruction. The period is designed to observe and isolate those with Covid before actual practices begin. Coaches say they need 3-4 weeks after that to be ready. Will there be scrimmages or do we go right to games? How many games are needed to qualify for championship eligibility? At the moment Field Hockey has been adjusted to 9 games.

So if we were to start on January 1, the first game could then be played after March 12.  It would be necessary to play at least two games a week to fill requirements plus have a PL championship. There needs to be good planning since there would be sharing of facilities with the spring sports.

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Leopards get ready in Maroon Club weight training center!!

Basketball start dates are to be decided by mid September after that is not too early to start making plans for the spring. I wait for a clear indication that the process has begun.

Stone Adds Transfer Becca Harbert To The Roster

Coach Jennifer Stone added a transfer to her roster from the University of Delaware, GK Becca Harbert. Becca is a rising Junior who was a two time letter winner at the University of Delaware. The National Academic Squad member, is a biology major and will join two other goalkeepers already on the squad. Becca played high school field hockey at Cumberland Valley, and was a mid-Penn all star.

Nancy Stevens Retires

The long time coach for the Connecticut Huskies announced her retirement yesterday after 30 years, She is the winningest coach in NCAA field hockey history. She has been a collegiate coach for 43 years but will remain as a volunteer coach this year. She led the Huskies to National Championships (2013, 2014, and2017). She finishes her career with an all time record 700-189-24.

Paul Caddy, recognized as one of the top assistants in country will be elevated to the head coaching position. He has been with UConn for the last 20 years.

NCAA Sets Table For Spring Championships

The D1 Board of Directors approved the blanket eligibility waiver for fall sports student athletes regardless of whether they compete this fall or spring. The waiver allows schools to exempt athletic aid of a fall sport athlete would have exhausted eligibility in 2020-21 extending the athletes eligibility time. The extension will not count against team limits for 2021-22. The board also recommended fall championships be moved to the spring and directed the Competition and Oversight Committee to develop NCAA championship models for the impacted sports.

There has been no response from either the Patriot League or Lafayette at the moment.

The NCAA vs Power Five Football

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Mark Emmert president of the NCAA called off all NCAA fall championships, which left the FBS intact, the one the NCAA has made out of reach. Most of these schools are clinging with dogged determination to keep football playing this fall, along with other sports. Emmert climbed out of his bunker to declare the fall season over for most schools and set off a battle between the large power 5 schools and the rest of college athletics.

Emmert is clearly trying to pressure the remaining conferences to give in and play their championships in the spring. The remaining six football conferences are clearly up against the wall but it sets up a showdown between the NCAA who usually bows to the large conferences and all the rest of college athletics.

Sports Illustrated reports one Group of 5 AD said, ” Does the fall proceed with only six FBS conferences playing football and no one else doing anything.” The dynamic has changed this fall with many sports reaching less than 50% playing the many other sports and therefore triggering cancelling all fall championship tournaments. Is Karen Shelton at UNC going to be content to play 6 or 7 games and be ineligible to play for a national championship?

It was the Big Ten move and Pac 12 move that reduced the leverage of the remaining conferences. ” Among our frustrations with the NCAA is that they keep making announcements like this, without having first decided the myriad of associated issues involving eligibility, scholarship limits, competition season, roster size, etc ” said one Power 5 AD.  These are all legitimate issues and issues that have not been addressed by conferences like the Patriot League leaving many student athletes in limbo!!

The NCAA is not without fault neither is the Patriot League. These are important issues which ultimately go to credibility. IF THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT A SPRING SEASON ( THE LAST CHANCE FOR MANY ATHLETES TO PLAY THIS ACADEMIC YEAR ) THEY SHOULD BE SPENDING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS SOLVING THESE PROBLEMS.

As many of you already know, I am not a great fan of the NCAA, for the main reason they have closed their eyes to the larger issues in college sports and chosen to encourage enforcement of a  plethora of ridiculous minor violations  ( like five dollar gift prohibitions to former athletes). The members schools of the NCAA have gone along with this and bear some responsibility for the current situation.

I do not believe the NCAA should go away, but be a better regulatory organization focusing on the “big stuff.” That takes engagement by the president’s of the colleges and universities. We should be returning to sport, not politics, power and egotism. We should be encouraging the lessons of athletics which are learned best on the playing field than in back room deals by interested combines. Sports has become entwined in other efforts recently, perhaps we all should take deep breath and decide how we get our student athletes back on the field! Full Stop!!

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.

78–39–34–5

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.

12-15

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.