USARugby Board of Directors Approves College Restructuring Plan
The USA Rugby Board of Directors on November 12 approved a new administrative and competitive structure for intercollegiate rugby. Over a three-year period, collegiate rugby will transition to a conference-based structure in order to accommodate increased participation and to ease the administrative burden of collegiate rugby programs.
The changes approved by the Board were proposed by USA Rugby’s College Strategic Committee following a five-month study of college competition and administration.
Under the new plan, USA Rugby’s College Division will be governed by an 11-person Management Council. The College Division will also have its own eligibility committee as well as men’s and women’s competition committees that will oversee postseason play.
“This is a positive step for American rugby,” USA Rugby Chairman Kevin Roberts said. “College leaders will now focus on growing the college game and club leaders will focus on doing the same for clubs.
“We’ve seen the positive results this type of leadership structure has created at the youth and high school level. We have every expectation we will see the same results at the college and club levels.”
The Management Council will replace the College Strategic Committee and the Eligibility and Competition committees will have oversight of all college eligibility and competition issues. Members of the Management Council and eligibility and competition committees will come from the ranks of college coaches and administrators.
At the local level, college programs will begin to transition to a conference-based competition and administrative structure following the end of the 2010-2011 season. This transition will take place over a three-year period.
All teams will remain in good standing with their Territorial Unions (TUs)/Local Area Unions (LAUs) during the 2010-2011 season.
While the approved proposal deals solely with the structure of college rugby, the Board agreed that this plan will have ramifications beyond college rugby as it is the first step in addressing several key issues facing the sport in America.
“I would like to commend the College Strategic Committee for its work on this proposal and their vision for the future,” USA Rugby CEO and President of Rugby Operations Nigel Melville said. “Rugby has started to take market share from traditional American sports and in order to capitalize on this trend we must look and feel like an American sport. This new model is the first step in that direction.”
REASONS FOR THE RESTRUCTURE
• The rapid increase in participation rates is adding to the pressure on current administrative structures.
• Adopting a well-tried and tested American sports model will increase support and understanding of rugby from sports administrators, parents, players, media, sponsors and broadcasters.
• The development of State-Based Rugby Organizations (SBRO) has created explosive growth at the Youth and High School level.
• College rugby will grow as a result of the increase in the number of high school and youth programs.
• The announcement of rugby as an Olympic sport has increased the opportunity for USA Rugby’s NCAA Emerging Sports Initiative.
While the leadership structure will be put in place by the end of the 2010-2011 season, the transition of college programs into conferences will be phased in over a three-year period.
Men’s Division I programs have already begun competing in a conference system and will add the administrative component to their conferences for the 2011-2012 season. Men’s Division II programs will have until the start of the 2012-2013 season and men’s Division III programs will have until the start of the 2013-2014 season.
Programs at all levels may begin moving into conferences for the 2011-2012 season but teams in each Division should plan to complete the transition by the dates listed above.
Teams will need to remain in good standing with their TUs and LAUs until they have moved into a USA Rugby-sanctioned conference.
CONFERENCE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT FOR 2011-2012
A Division I men’s conference must have a minimum of seven Division I-eligible schools for the 2011-2012 season in order to be eligible for an automatic berth in the Division I playoffs for its conference champion. For the 2011-2012 season only, a conference may count up to two Premier League teams towards the minimum requirement.
Premier League teams will not be eligible for Division I postseason play.
LEVEL OF PLAY
Beginning with the 2012-2013 season, to be eligible for USA Rugby postseason competition, men’s college programs will be required to play in divisions based on their school’s level of play within the NCAA or NAIA. The breakdown will be as follows:
USA Rugby Division I: NCAA Division I-A (FBS)
USA Rugby Division II: NCAA Division I-AA (FCS), I-AAA, Division II
USA Rugby Division III: NCAA Division III, NAIA, junior college, all first year programs
PLEASE NOTE: There is no postseason restriction on programs that choose to play above their postseason division.
Programs that choose to play below their postseason division will not be eligible for USA Rugby postseason play.
Programs that are currently competing below their required postseason level are encouraged to move up to their appropriate division for the 2011-2012 season.
The timeline for movement of women’s program into the conference structure is being finalized by the Women’s College Working Group with an eye towards bringing those programs along on the same timeframe as the men’s programs.
USA Rugby would like to recognize the members of the College Strategic Committee who participated in crafting the new college structure: Pete Seccia (USA Rugby Board member & committee chairman), Todd Bell (USA Rugby Collegiate Director), Chip Auscavitch (NERFU), Marty Bradley (University of Tennessee), Pat Kane (Wake Forest University), MaryBeth Mathews (Bowdoin College), Dan Payne (Life University), Matt Sherman (Stanford University) and Alex Williams (USA Rugby Women’s High Performance Manager).
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