The .500 rule is coming to NCAA Division I women’s golf
HILTON HEAD Island, Georgia. Major changes are coming to NCAA Division I women’s golf.
Last week, the NCAA notified coaches via email that the competition oversight committee approved the .500 rule, which should go into effect from the 2024-25 season.
The .500 rule, which has been in use in the men’s game since 2007-08, requires teams to finish the regular season, including the conference, with a .500 head-to-head winning percentage or higher against Division I opponents to be eligible. for regional play. The only exception, of course, is when a team wins a conference title to qualify for an automatic bet.
Mark Bedix, NCAA deputy director of championships for women’s DI golf, told GolfChannel.com that the COC asked the women’s golf committee to reconsider the .500 rule, which hadn’t passed a vote back in 2016. So the committee sent out a survey of head coaches and assistant coaches for all 269 DI programs in early January; they received responses from about 75% of coaches, of whom over 70% voted for the .500 rule.
The COC approved the rule this month and sent out an email to coaches informing them of the upcoming changes.
“We thought it was a high response rate,” Bedix said, “so the committee decided it was in the best interest of the sport. It opens up possibilities. There are coaches who say that there is no way their teams can get inside the bubble, even if they win every tournament. This expands the schedule a bit and may allow some teams to get invited to some tournaments to compete against teams they don’t normally get.”
While most mid-level coaches say the same, the .500 rule is mostly unpopular in top 50 programs. Opponents of the rule, many of whom have teams competing this week in the Darius Rooker Intercollegiate Tournament (played by six top 10 teams as well as individuals from Howard), counter that it doesn’t really achieve its intended goal, creating headaches when planning and reducing the number of truly elite fields.
“I think we’re fixing what’s not broken yet,” said Alabama head coach Mick Potter, who notes that when his team finished 14th at nationals and Emma Talley won the 2015 individual title, the team was below 0.500.
“I’ve always been against it,” Potter added, “and I don’t like to think it’s because we were national champions and we were competitive. I’m just worried about individual players and the competition they get. … I just want to be able to comfortably field our girls against top players every week.”
Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said, “I think it’s sad to see. I think there is some freedom in your schedule, and it’s great that you give your student athletes the opportunity to play everywhere and not have to focus on who will be on the field, who is in what ranking, and whether I can beat them; if you just schedule and play the best golf you can, you give your team the best training they can.”
Currently, about a dozen women’s teams are ranked in the top 60 by Golfstat with ratings below or just above .500, including Arkansas and Duke, who also play Darius.
For men, the rule only applies to a few teams each season (last season, Alabama and Baylor ranked high enough to qualify for the regional rankings but were ineligible because they had less than .500 records). a huge push from top coaches to get rid of the rule.
Baylor head coach Jay Goble said he spoke to one top 20 men’s coach who told him he had four really good tournaments scheduled and was “watering down the rest to win.”
“They’re trying to end it, and it’s funny that we’re trying to do that now,” Goble said. “I don’t see it working there.”
Goble also noted the unfairness of clean voting, as the number of teams that don’t always make it to the postseason far outnumbers the top teams. Georgia chief Josh Brewer was upset that there was no formal squabbling period.
“We’ve been wrestling with this for a decade,” Brewer said. “We have the data and we have it…Teams rated 150 and below think they need it to play good tournaments. They just need to get better.”
Brewer introduced another potential problem: Since coaches are essentially planning blindly with limited ability to drop/add events, there is a chance that coaches looking for new events with easier win conditions may find themselves planning many of the same events. as other top coaches. thus negating the strategy.
“They have to answer that question,” Brewer said. “I’m signing up for my former assistant’s tournament, the Georgia Southern tournament. I play in schools with a rating of 70-140. I need victories. All of a sudden I’m looking at the field and I see a bunch of top 10 teams. if Georgia thinks they’re playing football with the state of Alabama. Instead, they get the University of Alabama. It’s not very fair.
“It’s the only sport where you sign up for tournaments without knowing who you’re playing against.”
Bedix replied, “We didn’t have that conversation, but you can’t say we couldn’t.” John Baldwin, NCAA managing director of championships and alliances, added that he had not yet seen such a scenario in men.
Every spring, Arizona State Head Coach Miss Farr-Kay hosts an event. Last season, she invited Harvard to her tournament, which invariably has a long waiting list.
She argued that, unlike the men’s game, the top teams don’t have many good events during the season.
“My advice would be, if you are a team that really wants opportunities, find a golf course, put on a great tournament, and you get a great course because we don’t have enough good tournaments.” — Farr Kay. said. “If we had more opportunities to choose tournaments, our men’s teams can choose between two or three good tournaments in any given week.
“… This is what it is. I just really hope we don’t change our schedule so much because of this. We’ll see if it really does what people want, and hopefully it does.”
Bedix has heard the criticism and here is his message: “The push back has always come from those who don’t want to loosen up their schedules. We’re talking about one tournament, maybe two.”