Does anyone else smell that smoke? Can an aquatic sport actually burn to the ground?
Mark Emmert is the new head of the NCAA. Anyone remember who he is? He was the President of the University of Washington when they cut their swimming program during it's most successful year ever. I know he wasn't in charge at the time, but didn't UW also refuse to allow the Goodwill Games pool to be built on campus for free back in 1990, forcing it to it's location in Federal Way? And then they used lack of facility as an argument to cut swimming multiple times before it was finally killed for real?
Ummm... I can't help getting a little Han Solo vibe when I say it: "I have a bad feeling about this."
A quote from an article about his hiring:
The NCAA distributes nearly 96 percent of all revenue back to member schools, Emmert said.
"The most important issue is to recognize the NCAA does in fact engage in a variety of activities that generate revenue, the basketball tournament being the most dominant one of those by far," he said. "That's not inconsistent at all with the goals and values of the NCAA.""The question is, what do you do with those resources? If those resources are deployed toward advancing the values and interest of intercollegiate athletics and student athletes, I don't see an inherent contradiction there at all."
Uh... yeah. I don't either unless the wrong people are deciding the priority list for what sports see the benefit. So far, the "values of the NCAA" is the part I am struggling with. Right now it almost seems that if a sport don't make money, it ain't got no value. If they had expanded to 96 teams in the men's tournament, I would have thrown up. There would have been almost half as many TEAMS in the championship for basketball as there are SWIMMERS in the D1 swim meet. Ouch. It's a good thing that was never a real possibility.
According to John Leonard on the MSS, when he talked about combining the men's and women's NCAA meets and possibly expanding the meets to allow conference champs with B cuts, former NCAA leader, Myles Brand, was an "enthusiastic supporter" of meet expansion and the idea of a temporary pool to host a major championship. I have a feeling that Mark Emmert is not going to be on board at all.
I think that when most people listen to Mr. Leonard's proposal, they stop listening as soon as one of his 5 points rubs them the wrong way. Listen carefully to what he is proposing. He says that the NCAA has "listed swimming as an endangered sport." The proposal is amazing and it goes right along with what we have been arguing about here all week. We need MAJOR changes like this to help our sport survive.
I hope that when the CSCAA votes next month, the stubborn coaches who like things the way they are don't politic and shut it down. This proposal is the first major thing I have heard in a long time that can take us in the right direction. Anyone who has a problem with "the girls invading the boys meet" is being selfish and is not really weighing out the positives. They are not thinking about the well-being of the sport as a whole.
I see the ASA U meet getting more popular every year. Lots more swimmers will have nowhere else to swim if we keep heading in the direction we are now.
Watch John Leonard's proposal here. Yes, the entire thing. Then use my comments section to shoot holes in it if you can.