A proposal to move men’s college soccer to a split season beginning in the 2022-2023 season was put on hold along with nearly 60 other NCAA proposals and reforms because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we cited previously, DU supported extending the current fall soccer season into the spring. The proposal would consist of 13 games in the fall and end around Thanksgiving before picking back up in the spring with nine more matches before the postseason. The College Cup would fall between lacrosse’s Championship Weekend during Memorial Day and baseball’s College World Series. The split season would also put playoffs and the championship in spring weather – a solution to low-attended Cups in inclement fall conditions – and allow a week break between the semifinals and final instead of the current one-day rest.
"We believe our attention now and in the foreseeable future must be on the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and our community due to the Covid-19 pandemic." #21stCenturyModel @NCAASoccer pic.twitter.com/3Chc9MSvk9
— 21st Century Model (@21stCMSoccer) April 2, 2020
The proposal was headed for passage and had the wide-ranging support from college coaches and public backing from three Power Conferences – the Big 10, ACC and Pac-12. The proposal is more or less revenue neutral with a decrease in games from 25 to 23 and the elimination of most mid-week games and associated travel which impacted academics as well as player health with multiple matches in the same week.
What this means for DU men’s soccer is twofold. First, players will continue to play midweek games in the near future with extensive travel in a compressed fall schedule. Second, many recruits and players with professional ambitions will continue to seek other avenues outside college soccer for development.
Even though this delay makes sense and is necessary to allow for resources and focus in areas of most need, this is a setback for DU’s head coach Jamie Franks who avidly supported the proposal. The biggest impact, though, will remain with the student-athletes who will continue playing in an unnecessarily grueling compressed fall schedule.
The assumed future proposal to extend the season should be modified to include women’s soccer in a single proposal. According to several studies, while women soccer players have a lower incidence of injury than their male counterparts, they still face the same fatigue as men. They also experience the same mid-week travel and multiple games a week that impacts academics while exposing all athletes to further injury and stress. This delay, though unfortunate, will hopefully allow for this necessary modification and give us a silver lining.
Top photo of DU Men’s Soccer head coach Jamie Franks courtesy of Denver Athletics