November 22, 2007

Memo to NCAA Rules Committee - STOP WORKING!

When I was a kid, I remember seeing some cartoon where a sculptor keeps working on a statue, keeps chiseling here, taking a bit off there, keeps messing with it until the original 10 foot statue is now a 6 inch figurine. This is how I feel about the NCAA Rules Committee!
It was my understanding that the NCAA Rules Committee was formed as a reaction to the college volleyball playing rules being determined by a group other than the NCAA or its volleyball coaches, and the growing influence that the FIVB, via USA Volleyball, was exerting upon college volleyball. I agree that we (NCAA Volleyball coaches) should determine our playing rules and not someone else.
Unfortunately, the NCAA Volleyball Rules Committee now seems to have reached the point where it is submitting rule proposals and voting surveys to keep perpetuating its own existence. We need to take the chisel out of the hands of the committee and put the statue on display for a few years. Let's take NCAA Volleyball, unadjusted, out for a long term test drive.
The latest rules survey that I received asked for coaches opinions on the following:
- Elimination of 2nd and/or 3rd contact double hits.
- Follow the FIVB rules to allow the discretionary calling of non-1st contact double hits by the official, dependent upon the length of a rally; i.e. don't stop an exciting, long rally with a double hit call.
- Change the length of games to 25 points to replicate FIVB rules.
- Change the name of games to sets or visa versa, to follow FIVB terminology (too many proposals to accurately remember this one, but it was to match up with the FIVB).
I would not have such strong opinions about voting upon such matters, but when we college coaches have filled out such surveys, the majority opinion has not won. The change to rally score proposal was voted down by coaches and conferences, but it still passed into volleyball law. Because of this history, it really gives no encouragement to even take time to send in my opinion.
Just this week, I receive a Call for Proposals for new NCAA Volleyball rules. Again, the impression that I have of the NCAA Rules Committee is it is just trying to propagate its existence. I am sending my form back, proposing that there be no more rule changes for 5 years - let's at least allow one incoming volleyball student-athlete class to play their career under one set of unchanging rules.
I actually had a former athletic director, my immediate supervisor in the department and who was a member of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Executive Committee, ask me why volleyball keeps making significant rule changes every year - she just could not understand it and I could not explain it.
My philosophical argument against the NCAA Rules Committee and the never ending rule changes, is that it takes the collective college volleyball focus away from important issues and places it upon the very small commune of volleyball policy wonks.
Women's Basketball and Softball are beating us administratively within the NCAA. Women's Soccer is threatening to take the title of being the women's sport of the Fall Semester away from Volleyball. I don't know these sports, but I have seen them enough on my own campus and I am friends with their coaches to feel that they are not wasting time and effort making continuous rule changes. Let's be honest, Softball and Soccer could stand to do something to make it more exciting of a spectator sport, but they have stood by the beauty of their respective sports and they are making yearly gains.
Our collective college volleyball focus should be on agitating to improve the operational funding, promotional marketing, and professional salaries for volleyball. This is exactly what NCAA Women's Basketball did 15 years ago. Now, the Assistant Basketball coaches in the power conferences enjoy salaries of over $100,000.00 and I promise you that every NCAA Women's Basketball 1st Assistant Coach makes as much or more than the Head Volleyball coaches at 90% of the same schools. And here we are, the college volleyball coaches spending effort to determine the viability of calling or not calling 2nd/3rd contact double hits! AMAZING!
We will never be more than a glorified high school women's sport, as a whole, until we start acting like a big time Division I athletics entity. Women's Volleyball hears the word "no" once and it folds. My hat is off to Lindy Vivas for having the fortitude to bring a lawsuit against Fresno State for the treatment that she and the volleyball program received - does not matter that she won the suit, what mattered is she stepped up and demanded better.
People like to create, they like to tinker - whether is home improvement, cooking, gardening, anything, it is human nature to fiddle with things. We need to stop fiddling with our sport and start fiddling with the NCAA. Right now, our overactive NCAA Rules Committee keeps us fiddling with our sport.

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