College golf coaches' fears eased as NCAA denies blanket waiver request that could have led to program cuts

NCAA GOLF: MAY 23 Women's Division I Golf Championships

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There was good news for college golf fans from the NCAA late Friday. A proposal that some coaches and administrators feared could result in schools defunding and cutting non-revenue sports, including golf teams, in the face of budget issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, was turned down by the Division I Council.

More than two dozen conference commissioners had written a letter on April 10 to NCAA president Mark Emmert early last week asking that the requirement that D-I schools sponsor a minimum of 16 sports be temporarily waved to assist schools dealing with financial woes caused by the coronavirus. After the D-I Council met via video call on Friday, chairwoman Grace Calhoun explained the decision that this specific part of the waiver request would only be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Higher education is facing unique challenges, and the Division I leadership believes it’s appropriate to examine areas in which rules can be relaxed or amended to provide flexibility for schools and conferences,” said Calhoun, who is also the athletic director at the University of Pennsylvania. “We will prioritize student-athlete well-being and opportunities balanced with reducing costs associated with administering college sports, but a blanket waiver of sport sponsorship requirements is not in keeping with our values and will not be considered.”

In response to the waiver request, leaders at the Golf Coaches Association of America and the Women’s Golf Coaches Association joined their peers in coaching associations in more than a dozen other sports in condemning the possibility of the temporary reduction.

“The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic places a lasting burden on both higher education and intercollegiate athletics alike,” read the coaches’ letter, “but slashing opportunities for students is not the solution.”

In an email sent to golf coaches, a copy of which was obtained by Golf Digest, Grost noted: “If this waiver passes, it would mean the potential for fewer teams, fewer scholarships and fewer opportunities for student athletes competing in Olympic and non-revenue producing sports. The GCAA strongly opposes this drastic measure.”

The Council does, however, expect to address issues on transfers and scheduling in the coming weeks.