Why isn't the NCAA Championship on TV?
It's a question I'd get asked more often than any other from casual golf fans with a curiosity about the college game. It was generally posed more philosophically than literally, where the answer comes down to dollars that didn't make sense for the broadcasting entity.
With the announcement Dec. 17 that the Golf Channel will televise the NCAA men's Division I championship starting in 2014 and the men's and women's championship in 2015, the question of costs remains unclear—there was no reference in the press release detailing the agreement regarding how much the Golf Channel is paying for the rights to broadcast or how it will offset the costs of production.
At this time, however, that doesn't really matter. The more important point is that college golf's biggest event will finally be back on the small screen for the first time since 2000.
"We are committed to covering all facets of the game of golf, and this new partnership with the NCAA will be the centerpiece of our broader commitment to covering the collegiate game," said Golf Channel president Mike McCarley in a press release. "We look forward to introducing our viewers to the future stars of the game and tapping into the tremendous passion collegiate fans have for their schools."
Indeed, in addition to airing the championships—starting with the three days of play from the men's edition at Prairie Dunes CC in Hutchinson, Kan., in 2014—Golf Channel executives say the cable network will provide "comprehensive news coverage on-air and online" about college golf during the school year in a build-up toward the national championship. This is as important to hear as the fact that the championship will be on TV in the first place. That there might be more consistent and regular coverage of college golf from arguably the highest-profile national golf outlet in the country actually might have the bigger impact long term.
While the men will have the sole spotlight in 2014, both the men's and women's D-I tournaments will be aired in 2015, with each championship being held at The Concession GC in Bradenton, Fla. (NCAA officials had not previously announced the site of either championship). It will be the first time that one course will host both D-I championships.
Such a pardon the pun concession is one of the ways no doubt that the cost issue is addressed; instead of the expense of setting up cameras at two different courses to cover the two championships, Golf Channel will only have to do it at one.
It's a simple start of a solution to a problem that many in the college golf world weren't certain would ever be solved, including myself. I relish the idea that in the coming years the question "Why isn't the NCAA Championship on TV?" might be replaced with "Can you believe there once was a time when the NCAA Championship wasn't on the Golf Channel?"
LAS VEGAS—Love it or hate it, the match-play component of the men's NCAA Championship will be around for the foreseeable future.
So said San Jose State men's coach John Kennaday and Georgia Southern's Larry Mays, the two members of the NCAA men's Division I championship committee in attendance this week at the Golf Coaches Association of America's annual convention.
Kennaday and Mays, along with NCAA assistant director of championships Donnie Wagner, answered questions from attendees at the Tropicana Resort—a record-breaking number for a GCAA convention, according to CEO Gregg Grost—and reiterated the committee's support for match play in crowning a team champion.
"As far as we're concerned we're going to stay with match play," said Kennaday of the format that's been in place since 2009 where the top eight schools after 54 stroke-play holes compete in a series of head-to-head contests to determine the winning program. "It's going to carry us forward with the hope of possibly attracting TV [coverage of the event]."
That not to say, however, that the committee is done tweaking the championship. Wagner noted that the six-member group has held discussions regarding the possibility of returning the individual stroke-play competition to a 72-hole affair.
While there is still no official word on whether Texas sophomore Jordan Spieth will be back for the defending NCAA champions after the new year—he failed to advance past second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school last month but did not rule out turning pro anyway in early 2013—there is a clear signal on the status of incoming Longhorn freshman Beau Hossler for the spring semester.
Hossler, who caught the attention of casual golf fans this past summer when he briefly held the lead at the U.S. Open, signed with the Longhorns last month with the intent to enroll in college in January. This led to some speculation/reports that the 17-year-old from Mission Viejo, Calif., would be teeing it up immediately for coach John Fields' squad.
However, both Hossler and Fields told Golf World that the plan is for Hossler to until the fall to play in his first college event.
"I am eligible to play [in the spring], but I'm not going to. I'll start in the fall," Hossler said in a recent interview.
"The original plan is for him to settle into school and play starting in [fall] 2013. Still the plan," responded Fields via email regarding Hossler's status.
While Hossler won't play for the squad, he can practice with the team upon starting classes in Austin.
Early enrollment is a path that a handful of highly touted junior golfers have recently taken. Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans and Anders Albertson enrolled in school in January 2011 but did not compete for the Yellow Jackets until the next fall, instead getting acclimated with college life and keeping their full four years of eligibility. Similarly Ricky Werenski did the same thing the year before.