Leopards To Play Four Big Ten Schools In Challenging Fall Schedule

Alix Talkow blocks pass against American

The fall schedule was posted on twitter but with a couple of changes needed. It was incorrectly reported that Lafayette will play 20 games. ( The article incorrectly reported the first two scrimmages with Delaware and Albany as official games). However here are schools and dates for games as reported.

The two scrimmages are Aug 19 and 22. Delaware will be away at 1pm and Albany at home reportedly at 2 pm. The first official game will be home August 27th with Hofstra @ 4pm,  followed by an August home contest with Villanova on the 29th@ 3pm. Then, the following weekend will be the first two games away with Big Ten opponents, Ohio State on September 3rd @. 4pm and Indiana on September 5th @11 am.  The Leopards will return home on September 10th to host Yale in a game under the lights @7 pm. They will then hop to a bus to travel to Quinipiac on Sept 12th for a 1 pm game.

The first Patriot League game will be with the likely Patriot League favorite American University in DC on September 18th @12 pm. The Leopards went to overtime in both games with American this past spring including a controversial call in the second game which led to a game winning stroke. The Patriot League schedule continues the following weekend at home against Holy Cross on September 25 @noon. Lafayette will stay at home for the next two games on October 2 and 3rd against Colgate @ 11 am and Fairfield @2pm respectively. 

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Eva Kaplan sends a pass downfield

The next week the Leopards will again hit the road against Boston University on Oct 9th@ 12 pm and Brown Oct 10th @ 1 pm. The following friday, Oct 15th @7 pm will see the Nittany Lions of Penn State at Rappolt field, followed by Drexel on Sunday October 17 @ 1pm. The Patriot League schedule resumes with a game against arch rival Lehigh on Friday October 22nd in a game under the lights. @ 7pm. Temple will host the Leopards on Sunday Oct 24th @1 pm.

The Patriot League final regular season game will be marked by a visit by the spring league champion Bucknell on Oct 30th @12 pm quickly followed by a visit to Piscataway for a game with the fourth Big Ten rival Rutgers @2 pm.

This is an ambitious schedule which if successfully navigated could certainly lead to at least a top 20 ranking. A Patriot League championship by winning the Patriot League tournament would amount to an automatic slot in the NCAA national tournament.

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Audrey Sawers will be back to challenge Patriot League foes

One half of the Leopards had an intense spring game experience, the other half which includes a very talented freshman class will have not played a single division one game. The early games will be good experience and preparation for the latter part of the season. Audrey Sawers will be returning for her covid season bonus and should be a key leader on a team that saw each game played this spring to one goal margins as well as a number of overtime games.

American will return two for their bonus season and Lehigh will return two as well. Grace Angelella will be playing for Temple, a late season game as she will studying for a masters degree at the Philadelphia school. In addition, Teressa Delahanty a Lafayette  graduate from several year ago will be a volunteer coach at Drexel.

NIL Starts To Kick In

Lehigh University softball player Carley Barjaktarovich has signed an endorsement deal with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the minor league team. The July 22 theme night will feature a paid appearance at the Iron Pigs game. Last Monday the Iron Pigs announced that she has signed an endorsement deal. The Iron Pigs say it is the first professional sport deal since the NCAA decision to allow college athletes to accept endorsements for the use of their name, image and likeness while still competing for their school. Terms were not disclosed. Under Pennsylvania law, schools and leagues cannot sanction college athletes for deals like this.

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Meanwhile Erin Matson who plays for UNC has reported that she has signed a deal with Longstreath and other equipment companies for an undisclosed amount of money.

PS. I have just learned the game with Indiana will be at Ohio State in Columbus!!

Managing Change

The March To A “Normal” Season

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Audrey Sawers moves upfield

It’s only six weeks away, as coaches are preparing for a “normal” fall, where they will be returning to seasons dealing with restructuring, and building their teams for a run at championships. Players, fans, and parents are trying to adjust fall schedules to be in attendance, to watch any number of sports.   Student athletes will eventually be back to live classrooms and hopefully leaving the words like “zoom” behind them. In one and one half months bags will be packed and delivered to new dorm rooms. and college athletes will step on the field with their teammates. As the time approaches, all should all be increasing their off season training. Coach Stone believes in a fit squad, and quite logically the task of molding a squad that plays better as group than as individuals, can’t begin with a team more concerned about their next breath than their next pass, shot or defensive assignment.

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Emma Garvey and Mary Gould of Lafayette stop Bison attack at the goal

The past year has brought new changes as well. Lafayette will have a new president who will no doubt have her own idea about structure. By all accounts she and her spouse are committed fans of college athletics, given their experiences at Notre Dame, Virginia and UNC. In the world of NCAA athletics, it’s interesting how change that was unneeded or unwise has force schools and institutions back to the middle. Many schools, who had tried to drop sports, have now reversed their decisions. William and Mary not only reversed their decision to drop sports, but fired their AD and hired new talent. Stanford, who only 9 months ago decided to drop field hockey altogether will welcome Roz Ellis as their new coach. The Ivy League lost the chance to retain seniors who were deprived of their final  season.  They will see their graduates play somewhere else. Juliana Tornetta having graduated from Princeton, as an all american and now a member of the US Team, will play at Maryland this year! The Patriot League is preparing to deal with NIL and perhaps they have finally given up their aspiration to be “Ivy Light.”  The Ivy League certainly did not demonstrate any superiority of management last year. .

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Leopards get ready in Maroon Club weight training center!!

The NCAA is managing itself to irrelevance, as they seem stuck to managing minutia, as opposed to dealing with real problems. Their efforts seemed limited to changing small elements of the language in their regulations than addressing real problems.

Hopefully, Lafayette will emerge stronger, chastened by over zealous administration of rules, but keeping what is good. I expect athletics will emerge stronger as  Intercollegiate Athletics gets new attention, starting with a change in the reporting structure. All indications seem to be moving in that direction.

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A traffic jam in front of the Lafayette goal

I am ready to get down to the nitty gritty of fall competition. Lafayette will soon have on campus one of their most talented classes ever. Certainly it can be said individually, they can be as competitive with any team in the league. The question is repeated here, How will they mold together as a team?.

With many teams returning players for additional seasons, it will be challenging. Audrey Sawers the Lafayette captain, will be returning for her senior plus season and will be a threat to Patriot League foes. But Lehigh will return Lenke Havas and Drew Pecora, and American will return Noor Coenen and Gaby De Kock.

The League will be improved, and perhaps a better performance in out of conference games will get the League a better seed in the NCAA tournament. Bucknell’s performance in the national tournament certainly helped. Schedule’s are being finalized and Colgate already has reported a schedule that includes Albany in August. a late game with Syracuse. and two games with Cornell. Lafayette will host Colgate on Oct 2 at Rappolt Field. By my count, having reported only 15 games Colgate will have room for more games. There are reports that Lafayette will be playing  Yale on Sept 10 also at Rappolt.

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I will be interested in those early games and scrimmages, as experience must be gained. There will be 10 players for Lafayette who have never played in a Division one game. All manner of challenges, as the season approaches and certainly fodder for us fans!!

Name, Image, And Likeness (NIL)…The Patriot League Gets Ready

What is NIL And What It Means To The Student Athlete

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NIL, ( the student athlete’s rights to their name, image and likeness) is working it’s way through the courts as colleges, the NCAA, and conferences are beginning to get a handle on its implications. Until this point colleges, but not student athletes could profit from selling the rights to NIL to third party vendors like gaming companies. However, the athletes themselves have been prevented through archaic rules promulgated by the NCAA from benefiting from the licensing of their NIL.

Athletes in particular are not permitted to benefit in anyway from outside sources. It could be as insignificant as a four dollar picture frame to thousands of dollars in endorsements. These rules were particularly discriminatory to the student athlete. Was Yo Yo Ma the famous cello player required to forgo compensation while attending Harvard, or even been required to be regulated by the administration at Harvard on his musical gigs?!

The NFL and MLB Players Associations receive approximately 120 million dollars from licensing deals from video game publishers. This equates to about $48000 dollars per player each year. Last year Electronic Arts agreed to pay 40 million dollars to more than 29,000 current and former collegiate student athletes for the rights to use their name or likeness. There is also revenue potential in apparel deals.

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By one estimate the UCLA women’s gymnastic team alone could be worth as much as $1,250,000 annually in endorsement revenue, Many current Gen Z high school athletes are bringing along a following in social media. even before they arrive on campus. I have personally seen, in the sport of Field Hockey, that USA field hockey as part of their “grow the game strategy,” has looked at early experiments in video gaming.

To meet this challenge the Patriot League in a pioneering move have entered into an innovating partnership with INFLCR to “empower conference-member student athletes to share content  and manage student-athlete NIL activities.”  The Patriot League is the first NCAA Division One conference to provide league wide support for its members. The league officials stated,” By providing each Patriot League institution with a department-wide INFLCR solution, the conference is leading from the front and empowering all Patriot League student-athletes to grow their brands and educate themselves on the new opportunities that are coming soon from NIL.”

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Lafayette fans feeling it !!!

By sharing photos, videos, and graphics produced by member institutions, delivered by INFLCR software enables each student athlete the opportunity to share their story and grow their brand. INFCR software will provide transaction monitoring for student athlete’s  commercial activity, that happens through INFLCR vetted companies. In addition, student athletes will have access to educational video resources, which will provide ongoing NIL and brand strategy content from a variety of athletes and industry experts, according to League officials.

Kudos to the League and its respective members to be ready for this development!!!

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.

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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.

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.

 

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!