The Loop

When no news is probably good news

December 07, 2011

__LAS VEGAS—__No fireworks. Little scuttlebutt. Minimal bickering.

Indeed, the 2011 annual conventions for the Golf Coaches Association of America and the National Golf Coaches Association can be fairly characterized as kinder, gentler affairs than in year's past.

Which isn't a bad thing, by the way. That there isn't a lot of dissension among the rank and file in these two groups suggests that college golf is trending well.

Still, even issues that were expected to foster some interesting debate—most specifically the change in the amateur status rules from the USGA and R&A and how they might run afoul of NCAA Bylaws—there was little or no "fall out" that could be interpreted as angst or displeasure.

The entertainment, then, instead was provided by speakers lined by the two organizations. The NGCA's featured attraction was Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. The GCAA heard from  U.S. Walker Cup captain__Jim Holtgrieve__, noted instructor__Jim McLean__ and former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Dave Stockton.

The closest thing to discord came when some men's coaches brought up in an informal breakout session their desire to see the individual portion of the NCAA Championship return to a 72-hole competition. As has happened previously, a few ideas were bandied about, including holding a separate individual championship prior to the current team tournament. The most realistic (yet hardly simple) idea would add an extra day at the nationals to accommodate one more round of stroke-play competition. Whether any momentum truly comes from the session that gets a plan past the idea stage isn't clear but there seems to be some influential coaches (most notable Georgia Tech's Bruce Heppler) anxious to at least see a proposal put in front of the NCAA men's golf committee.

So what did happen in Sin City?

Both the men's and women's associations were briefed by the NCAA's Stephen Clar about proposals that will be reviewed at the NCAA Convention in January, as well as legislative changes that occurred as a result of the NCAA presidential retreat this summer.

Issues involving possible measures that would "deregulate" recruiting restrictions (allow coaches to contact prospects via text message rather than just phone calls as well as potentially eliminate restrictions on when and how often coaches can contact high schoolers) are on the horizon, as is the possibility that a 10-percent reduction in the regular season across all NCAA sports. Stay tuned.

Already adopted are changes in the academic performance requirements for teams to qualify for the post-season as well as the option for schools to provide up to $2,000 to full grant-in-aid athletes to help cover "cost of attendance" expenses not accounted for in the scholarship.

Additionally, the two associations got to induct new members into their Hall of Fames. The NGCA added UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth into its coaches' wing and former San Jose State All-Americans Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst as players. The GCAA added five coaches—Arthur Boulet (Bryant), Ken Hyland (Malone), Vince Jarrett (Abilene Christian, Houston), Jimmy Russell (Odessa) and Mike Wydra (UC San Diego)—and one contributor, former Ping college rep Gary Hart.