Could big changes be coming to NCAA golf regionals?
In an email obtained by GolfChannel.com, the NCAA’s Championships Finance Review Working Group asked Division I coaches across sports for feedback regarding several cost-saving recommendations.
One recommendation calls for a significant reduction in the number of teams who make the postseason. The idea suggests postseason fields be comprised of 15-25 percent ("ideally" 20 percent, the email states) of the total number of participating programs in a given sport.
Currently, 81 men’s teams and 72 women’s teams qualify for the postseason in golf. The proposal would see those numbers cut to 60 and 54, respectively. Individual numbers would also be reduced.
“The reduction of teams would be absolutely gutting to the sport,” said one coach, who wished to remain anonymous.
Added another coach: “Any time you take away opportunities for the student-athletes, it’s not a good thing.”
With more than 20 fewer regional qualifiers, the recommendation, if put into effect, would mostly shrink the at-large pool and could especially hurt non-Power 5 programs who don’t have the luxury of benefitting rankings-wise from a tougher schedule and typically end up among the final handful of at-large teams each year at regionals.
That said, another recommendation calls for at least 50 percent of postseason qualifiers to be at-large teams, which means that one men’s automatic bid could be taken away. (Currently, there are 31 men’s conferences that award automatic bids and 27 women’s conferences.)
Some coaches believe this is a way to also cut the number of regionals, from six on the men’s side and four on the women’s side, because simply reducing the number of regional teams does not save the NCAA money, as it does not pay teams' regional costs, only schools who host.
The Golf Coaches Association of America is reportedly meeting with the NCAA Division I Golf Committee on Wednesday to further discuss these recommendations.