College All-American Classic stays alive

January 15, 2008

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA.--I'm often shaking my head at some of the decisions the NCAA makes, unable to follow just how some of its bylaws actually work in the best interest of the student-athlete. It's rather frustrating when you can call the Indianapolis headquarters five straight days, ask for an interpretation on the same bylaw all five days and get five different answers. Unfortunately, it's also rather common.

That said, I commend the NCAA after learning at the Golf Coaches Association of America's annual convention that the Board of Directors and Management Council today approved Proposal 2007-93, which grants a special exemption for the 34-year-old College All-American Golf Classic. Most in the college golf world predicted/feared the vote actually would go the other way, considering the NCAA Championships Cabinet opposed the proposal. In typical NCAA-think, giving a exemption to a single event was too much to ask for. Thankfully, typical NCAA-think didn't prevail.

The College All-American Golf Classic has been run by the Sun Bowl Association in El Paso, Texas since 1974 and long has been an enjoyable reward for those who have earned All-American status the previous college season. Unique to college golf, the tournament is not a team event but a limited-field individual stroke-play competition with a prestigious list of past champions (Jerry Pate,Scott Simpson,Davis Love III and Tiger Woods to name a few) joined by Wake Forest senior Webb Simpson this past November). Tournament organizers go out of their way to treat participants as if they were major championship winners. Meanwhile, the Sun Bowl donates $1,000 scholarships to the schools of all the competitors, having given more than $600,000 overall.

Without the exemption, the event's November date would have forced schools with players in the event to consider the tournament an official date of competition, counting against the 24 maximum days a college golfer can play in a year. (The event previous exemption had been eliminated by NCAA Proposal 2006-107). "If we did not have the exemption, then it is most likely that the tournament would not be played," said tournament director Bob Kimble. "No coach is going to send his best player to the All-American if it would count against his team's playing dates."

Unless significant objections are raised in the next 60 days, when individuals can request an override vote, the exemption will stay in place and the event will continue this November.

In addition to applauding the NCAA, give credit to the Sun Bowl Association for lobbying Conference USA to write the exemption Proposal and the GCAA for having its member coaches help make the College All-American Golf Classic's plight better known to their school administrators. It's an example of where hard work can pay off.