All week long we’re covering the MCLA Summer Meetings in Greenville, South Carolina. We’re presenting topics that have been or will be discussed at the meetings. Got a topic you want covered? Tweet @PattonLAS or @MCLA_Fan, or email: email@example.com
The first day of the MCLA Summer Meetings are in the books, and we’ve got the deets. What follows is long and arduous, but this summer has been long and lacking on lacrosse information.
The day began with a tour of the field sites with the organizing committee. We’ll have a full photo breakdown of the sites tomorrow, but we’ve got good news on all fronts as far as they are concerned.
Moving back into the conference rooms, Tony Scazzero, MCLA President, reaffirmed his happiness with the Greenville organizing committee and their accommodating nature throughout the process. They have been taking all kinds of requests from the MCLA and they have been quick to fix any issues that have been raised. Unlike the process in Denver, we aren’t the sideshow fortunate to have access to a precious facility. We’re the main ticket and they are treating the league as such.
Each conference director gave their league reports. Most information was fairly mundane as you’d expect here, and not much strayed from the standard, “Yep, we’re doing good in XYZ Conference.” Here are some highlights from each conference:
GRLC – Matt Gardiner made the report for the GRLC. He paid mention to Lindenwood fully leaving for the NCAA. He also mentioned that Kansas State was attempting to return and the league was helping them out. You may recall from my post a while back that I am not a fan of Kansas State coming back. If we aren’t going to take a hard line with teams coming and going, they will continue to not take league membership seriously.
SELC – Buff Grubb made the report, and began by explaining his stepping out of the role as league president as Doug Horn transitions into the role this fall. Bill Harkins will takeover Doug Horn’s role as D1 director upon vote of the SELC membership. Vanderbilt University is under review for multiple game forfeitures in the 2011 season.
LSA – Jason Zantjer made the report here, starting off by noting Louisiana Tech has applied for admission. Oklahoma State wants to play down in Division II. They cited, “It would be better to develop down there.” I’m hoping I’m not the only one that sees the ludicrous nature of that statement. We’ll see what they league does.
PCLL – Ben Clark reported that the University of Maine is applying for membership, however they have applied in the past and have been inconsistent.
PNCLL – Jason Stockton reported on the league’s three-year admittance process (which I will break down in a future post). Washington State and Puget Sound will be in Year 2 of the three-year process for the 2012 season. The league has also received interest from two more Canadian teams, the University of Victoria and University of Calgary, however distance is a major concern for the PNCLL.
RMLC – John Robinette reported that Colorado State Pueblo will rejoin the RMLC D2. The playoffs at the neutral site of Grand Junction, Colorado, worked well for another year.
SLC – Chris Malone, proxy for Matt Holman, reported the Grand Canyon is applying for membership to DII. This raises some eyebrows, he explains that the NCAA varsity talent has left the school and competitive balance should not be an issue. He mentions that UNLV wants to rejoin. Laughter and eyerolls. It is re-explained that Campo cannot coach in the MCLA, however the team is open to reapply.
WCLL – Gary Podesta reported that Cal State Monterey Bay will be applying for admission to DII. If the league admits them the WCLL DII will gain an Automatic Qualifier bid to the National Championships, a vote is not needed the addition to six teams triggers the bid automatically. It is explained that Nevada and San Jose will continue to play down. Podesta mentions the league allows Nevada and San Jose to compete in the league’s playoffs despite being classified as DI by MCLA criteria. This oddly does not get met with criticism, and blows my mind.
UMLL – Derek Daehn reported that some teams had problems with being billed for OOC contests for the full amount when they had agreed to split the bill. Moral of the story after discussion among group: Communicate clearly with your conference assigner and director in order to avoid being billed improperly, a little communication while scheduling goes a long way to preventing improper billing.
CCLA – Ron Hebert discusses that some of the NAIA teams in his conference may be transitioning to NCAA in Lindenwood’s footsteps. He cites Davenport as one example, but nothing is definite.
At this point we ate lunch.
Returning from lunch, Bob Duggan gave his report on the officials. He reiterated that the referees main objective is to provide the best competitive atmosphere for the student athletes, and to work hard with the MCLA to achieve this end. There were many improvements in scheduling and payments during the 2011 season, despite a couple small hiccups. He also noted the ability of Arbiter to provide strong data content for the assigners to actively evaluate the performance of officials. The lack of integration with the backend of MCLA.us was noted, however there is not really a simple to solution to this as most MCLAers know.
Duggan then made perhaps the most unexpected point of the day: the very tight situation with capable referees in the area. He explained that, in Denver there were many highly skilled and experienced referees from access to contests with the Denver University and Air Force varsity squads, as well as MLL and NLL games. Greenville does not have this luxury and a severe lack of upper echelon officials in the Upstate South Carolina area exists. The closest group of top level officials is in Atlanta, some three hours away. Beyond Atlanta, the league now faces the very real likelihood of needing flights to meet the quota of 18-25 top notch officials to run the tournament.
I am not sure if this aspect had been discussed, but the silence in the room as he explained the point led me to believe it had been taken for granted that high quality officials would not be an issue. After some more discussion Duggan explained that a rotation system could be put in place where younger, less experienced officials could work the front end of the week. More seasoned, older officials could work the back end of the week on the more crucial semifinal and finals games. This would allow the league to reduce the costs of hotel rooms for officials who previously have spent the whole week at the tournament site. While I don’t really believe this aspect had been fully understood before being brought up today, I do believe it can be easily fixed and will not end up costing too much for the league to adjust.
CollegeLax Media Presentation
Sonny Pieper and Panchito Ojeda made their presentation on their media integration and plans for presenting the MCLA moving forward. Since their presentation had many proprietary details and are part of an outstanding bid to provide services, I am not going to detail them here. However, they are working on many upgrades to their presentation and interaction with the MCLA internet users.
MCLA Teams at NCAA Varsity Schools
Next came the big discussion surrounding the idea of allowing an MCLA club team to compete for an institution that also fields an NCAA varsity team. It was clear that most in the room were against the idea of allowing MCLA teams from NCAA varsity schools right off the bat. Questions were asked about which conferences received inquiries from teams at NCAA varsity schools. The RMLC, SELC, and PCLL had all fielded some level of interest from club teams at NCAA varsity schools.
Ben Clark, PCLL Conference Director, noted the phenomenon that every three or four years a new president would take over the club teams at University of Vermont, UMass Boston, or UMass Amherst, and they would contact the PCLL about membership. They have repeatedly been told that they can attend the PCLL fall meeting and schedule games, but cannot be admitted. What is more, Clark noted that the teams are not nearly of the organizational quality that the MCLA seeks from member teams. They lack consistent leadership, often show up to games with huge fluctuations in roster numbers, and do not wear matching uniforms or helmets. In short, Ben Clark’s experience with club teams from NCAA varsity schools embodied what most of us in the MCLA would expect.
Matt Gardiner from the GRLC makes a great point about teams like Augustana, Michigan, and Marquette being current MCLA constituents. It is discussed about whether or not these teams should be grandfathered in. In the end, the precedent has been set to exclude such teams from the MCLA, and while perhaps uncomfortable it is in the best interest of the league to part ways with Augustana, Michigan, and Marquette once their NCAA teams begin play.
It was further noted that this same discussion had taken place often in years past and had always reached the same conclusion, that the MCLA will NOT recognize teams from NCAA varsity schools. The discussion was tabled to allow for cleaning up the wording in the MCLA Operating Policy to make it permanently clear that the league holds this stance.
As reported during the MCLA Tournament in May, there has been active discussion on adjusting the tournament schedule for the week of the National Championships. The current format up for debate is to move the start of the tournament to Monday, allowing for first and second round play to be completed on Tuesday evening. Wednesday would be a day of rest for all teams. Thursday would feature the semifinals. Friday would be a second day of rest, to maximize the competitiveness of the championship games. Saturday would again hold the championship games for both divisions.
Nothing has been decided, but this format was met with many nodding heads and general agreement in the room. A vote on the format is likely to take place tomorrow.
As soon as the first day of the MCLA Summer Meetings concluded, I took a stroll a few blocks across downtown Greenville, South Carolina, and took in the sights and sounds of some high school football scrimmages at Sirrine Stadium. I conveniently forgot to take pictures, but Sirrine Stadium looked great and it should be a great place to host the championship games.
After the football games, I walked back to the hotel (drenched in sweat of course, it’s the South). I got myself some Chick-Fil-A and took in the Braves game. Did I mention that I LOVE SOUTH CAROLINA?!