- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On July 28, 2014
- 1 Comments
For years, college soccer has been a bit of a weird part of the US soccer landscape. Between the strange clock rules, the unlimited substitutions, and the compact season, college soccer has always stood out on its own in the development of young players.
But all of that may be changing for the better if a group of coaches, administrators and officials get their way. According to several outlets, most notably the Washington Post today, if everything goes to plan we could see a shift to a 10-month schedule rather than a compact three-month schedule that the NCAA currently operates under.
They have proposed turning Division I men’s soccer into a full academic-year sport, one that would kick off in mid-September and culminate in late-May. If approved by the NCAA, the new calendar would begin as early as 2016-17.
Under a proposal formulated by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the number of official team days would grow to 144 from 132. Teams would open training camp in late August, hold two friendlies, then play 13 matches between mid-September and the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Currently, some teams play two friendlies and as many as 24 games between late August and the holiday.)
From late November until late February, teams would go on winter break, restricted to eight hour-long training sessions. Spring training camp would begin in late February and include one friendly. The season would resume in mid-March and include nine regular season matches, plus conference and NCAA tournament games.
The article lists to good reasons for this change. Hopefully once this gets in place we will see some of the other weird rules that the NCAA uses go away as well as they look to align themselves more with the rest of the soccer world. Getting a proper weekend for the College Cup would also be huge going forward for the college game as well.
The NCAA still has a ways to go to really help the development of young players these days though. Working with MLS and the USSF for getting academy players proper scholarships is a big step in the right direction. Once young athletes play with professionals they lose their academic or amateur stature with the NCAA.
I do also question where the MLS SuperDraft falls into all of this. Doing it in January doesn’t seem right, but moving it to June also seems a big weird as well. The thing is, if the sides can all work out how to get players developed in the right manner and keep them in the US for MLS, the NASL and the USL PRO to continue to develop is really key in my mind no matter where you place the draft. Teams can draft young players in June and find ways to work them in like they would with new summer transfers anyways.
No matter how you look at it, changing the college game in this manner is a big change and a good one.