It’s always interesting to track back through some of the unintended consequences of conference realignment, and they’re not always positive.
The NCAA has a rule on its books that forbids a Division I program from playing more than four games during a season against teams from outside the Division I ranks. That includes exhibition games and games against transitional Division I programs.
The expansion of some of the nation’s smaller conferences have resulted in the addition of league members that aren’t full Division I programs yet: UMass-Lowell in the America East, Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word in the Southland, and Grand Canyon in the WAC.
This is a problem, because not every program was aware of this rule. That created a situation where Southland schools, like Oral Roberts and Stephen F. Austin, and America East programs, like Vermont and Maine, looked to be headed towards the unfortunate result of having to forfeit games against those new additions.
Well, it looks like the NCAA may be on their way to righting those errors. From the Burlington Free-Press:
A temporary waiver to absolve the University of Vermont men’s basketball team, as well as other programs across the country, of a schedule issue is expected to be approved by the NCAA later this week, the Burlington Free Press learned.
Let’s hope this is true.
Forfeiting games for what amounts to nothing more than a clerical error regarding some obscure rule in a confusing time of shifting conferences would do nothing but punish the student-athletes. Does it really matter whether or not UMass-Lowell is a full-fledged member of Division I if they are playing America East conference games?
The whole thing was stupid, so we have to give credit where credit is due. Looks like the NCAA will be getting this one right.