News & ToursJanuary 6, 2011

NCAA proposal could harm Puerto Rico events

With the NCAA Annual Convention beginning next week in San Antonio, college golf fans have a handful of reasons to pay attention to what takes place Jan. 12-15 in the Lone Star State. One includes a proposal that would impact the time table for when a coach can make a verbal offer to a prospective student athlete, a topic I'll revisit down the road.

The other matter that deserves a close look revolves around Proposal 2010-99, which would amend the NCAA bylaws to eliminate the chance for schools or conferences to take foreign tours as well as restrict competition in U.S. territories to once every four years. Put forward by  by the Big Ten conference in an attempt to help curb expenses in Olympic sports.

Ironically, in golf it's a Big Ten school—Purdue—that might be the most impacted should the proposal be adopted. Boilermaker coach Devon Brouse hosts a men's tournament in Puerto Rico each February, an event that has a 22-year history, annually attracts some of the country's top programs (this year's field includes Oklahoma State, Alabama, Georgia and Georgia Tech) and has become one of the most highly regard tournaments of the fall season. In recent years, he has also started a women's tournament that has quickly gained popularity.

Should Proposal 2010-99 pass, the likelihood that either event would continue beyond 2011 is doubtful. "I don't know why it would have a lot of appeal for a once-in-four-year [event]," Brouse told me in a recent phone interview.

Heading to a warm climate in February has benefits for most programs, particularly those in northern locations where weather conditions on campus make it difficult to practice/prepare for the pending spring semester. Holding an event in Puerto Rico, says Brouse, provides schools with an alternative to playing events in Hawaii, Arizona and Florida, one that he contends is a cost-effective alternative for many compared to staying and competing on the mainland.

"I can fly to Puerto Rico from Chicago cheaper than I can fly to Phoenix or L.A. or San Francisco, anywhere on the West Coast," Brouse says. "And it's expensive to travel and play in South Florida in February. All the courses are filled up, all the hotels, the rates are high. Yeah, we can find an alternative to [Puerto Rico], but it's not going to be cost containment, which is what the intention is."

"It's just taking away opportunities for students," Brouse continued, "and for a Midwestern program that has a chance to get out of the cold weather in February."

The chances of the proposal passing are unclear. After initially recommending its defeat, the Championships/Sports Management Cabinet gave the proposal its support with the understanding that foreign tours scheduled for summer 2011 could proceed. However, committees representing men's lacrosse, men's soccer and men's and women's track and field have all raised objections.

Additionally, the NCAA Academics Cabinet opposes the proposal, noting that "the cultural and academic benefits association with travel to foreign countries and the limited ability for student-athletes to engage in experiences abroad due to their athletics commitments" make such tours a valuable opportunity for student-athletes.

"I've heard mixed signals," Brouse says. "I think it can go either way honestly. ... It's just a hard pill to swallow if it goes away."

EDITOR'S NOTE, Jan. 18--To the approval of Brouse, Proposal 2010-99 was defeated during the NCAA Convention.

More from The Loop