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The Loop

Few suprises at the GCAA annual convention

December 07, 2009

LAS VEGAS--We had out first dusting of snow in Connecticut this past weekend, so I was naturally excited to come to the Nevada desert and delay the start of winter for a few more days. So what have I run into in Sin City? Temperatures in the low 40s and rain. Go figure.

That said, through the first day of the GCAA annual convention at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, the weather has been about the most controversial topic being discussed. Heated exchanges have been non-existent as coaches have come to accept the changes of recent years and are, to use a good cliche, letting the dust settle.

Indeed, if any men's coach who didn't like the change to match play for the NCAA D-I Championship was hoping to re-open debate on the matter, committee chair__**Darin Spease__ put a polite stop to it, noting that the committee needed more than a year's worth of experience with the new format for any true dialogue toward returning the championship to 72-hole medal play to occur.

Some interesting ideas did surface, though, about tweaks to the championship. Using a medal-match play format rather than straight match play after the final eight teams advanced  from 54-hole qualifying was brought up. The arguments for it seemed to have merit, most specifically trying to get things to end on the 18th hole, particularly at courses not necessarily suited for straight match play. Nevertheless, a straw-poll vote of coaches in attendance suggested match play was fine.

Coaches also discussed whether they should have the power in setting their line-ups for match play rather than using Golfstat's ranking to determine the order. A majority of coaches liked the idea of getting to pick themselves, thus allowing for some more strategy to play itself out.

Earlier in the day, Rachel Newman Baker, the NCAA's director of agents, gambling and amateurism activities, spoke regarding the results of a recent study on collegiate wagering. Golfers were found to be more likely to gamble compared to student-athletes in other sports on either a social basis (once a year), frequent (once a month) and heavy (once a week).

The good news for those worried that the NCAA might be looking to start a vendetta against golf is that Newman Clark was very reasonable in her presentation of the data and not looking to find scape goats. She acknowledged the NCAA isn't out to eliminate the culture of golfers playing for $2 nassau, but that the data pointed that golfers are doing more than making simple, friendly wagers with buddies on the golf course and are venturing into sports wagering and other more elicit forms of gambling. What could have been a very preachy lecture turned out to be a practical discussion of the issue.