What's new in 2013?
NAME CHANGE REMOVES MIX-UPS
After seven years in which two Division III conference shared the same acronym leading to mix-ups, the Northern Athletic Conference, formed in 2006, has renamed itself the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC). That leaves the older North Atlantic Conference, formed in 1999, with sole claim on the NAC acronym going forward.
CONFERENCE MUSICAL CHAIRS
There is no new conference on the scene like last year with the debut of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA), but the domino effect of some of the conference changes over the past few years continues to be felt in 2013.
• The American Southwest Conference (ASC) has been reduced from 14 schools to 11 with Schreiner and Texas Lutheran moving to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and Division II-bound McMurry no longer participating. McMurry began their transition to Division II last year, but the conference permitted them to participate one last season. Mississppi College, who planned to play in the ASC this year in any case, had their application denied to follow McMurry back to Division II and start their two-year transition this fall.
• Reduced to seven teams in 2012, the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) expands to ten schools, its most ever, with three new members on board. Penn State Harrisburg joins from the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) where they have competed since becoming a provisional Division III member in 2007. Former NAIA school Southern Virginia joins their first Division III conference as they enter the second year of provisional status and will only become eligible for the NCAA tournament in 2016. But the big news here is the transfer of Christopher Newport out of the USA South Athletic Conference of which they have been a member since 1972, a year before Division III was created. Christopher Newport already has established rivalries with Salisbury and York (Pa.) in men's soccer which will only intensify with conference standings and championships on the line each time they meet, not to mention berths to the NCAA tournament. All three have been accustomed to making the tournament, something which going forward will probably be the exception rather than the rule.
• The Great South Athletic Conference (GSAC), which became strictly a women's sports conference last season when the number of men's programs dropped to a mere two, has now lost both of those programs. Covenant and Huntingdon followed three former GSAC schools in making the jump to the USA South Athletic Conference. The conference had already compensated for their departures when a year ago they secured the addition of two women's schools, Trinity (D.C.) and Pine Manor for 2013. However, the conference also lost Spelman who discontinued their entire athletic program following the 2012-13 school year, creating the prospect of just five teams for 2013, the second and final year of their grace-period to get back to seven eligible teams in order to maintain their automatic berth to the women's tournament. However, in a move similar to the addition of geographically-distant Pine Manor (located in Massachusetts), the conference's reach multiplied with the additions of Mills (a women's school in California) and the women's teams from Maine-Presque Isle and Findlandia (Michagan's upper peninsula). In 2013 and future seasons, the conference regular season schedule will not include the five new members. Rather these teams will only participate in the end-of-season conference tournament, an arrangement not prohibited by NCAA regulations and which is sufficient to meet the requirements for an automatic tournament berth.
• The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) loses Penn State Harrisburg to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) to leave them with ten men's teams and 12 women's teams. Looking ahead, the conference has Bryn Athyn and Pennsylvania College of Technology lined-up to join next year. Both are beginning their exploratory year in the process of joining Division III and will hope to be accepted as provisional members next season.
• The Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) is now a 12-team league following the departure of Maranatha Baptist Bible who has chosen to become an independent. It quite possible that Maranatha will declare for the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national tournament rather than NCAA Division III tournament.
• After falling to just six members in 2013, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) adds two American Southwest Conference schools, Schreiner and Texas Lutheran. This brings the conference back up to eight men's and seven women's teams, enough to retain its automatic berths to the NCAA tournament. The need to grow resulted from the defection of seven schools to form the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) a year ago.
• The USA South Athletic Conference has lost Christopher Newport, perennial favorites in men's soccer, to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC), but has added two more schools from the Great South Athletic Conference (GSAC) to join the three that made the same switch a year ago. Covenant and Huntingdon reunite with LaGrange, Maryville, and Piedmont to bring the conference to a total of ten men's teams and 13 women's teams.
NEW ACTIVE DIVISION III MEMBER SCHOOLS
• Covenant College of the USA South Athletic Conference and Berry College of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) have completed the 4-year Division III provisional membership process and been approved for active status. They are eligible for the NCAA tournament starting this year.
• Two schools have been accepted to begin the four-year provisional/reclassifying membership into Division III: Alfred State (a SUNY school) and Iowa Wesleyan, who participates in the St, Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). These schools are expected to become active D-III members for the 2017-18 school year at which time they will be eligible for the NCAA tournament. Games against these four schools are not considered as "in-region" Division III games until the schools reach Year 3 of provisional membership.
• Five schools enter their second year of provisional membership in Division III: SUNY-Canton, Houghton College, Sarah Lawrence College, Southern Virginia University, and Valley Forge Christian College. These schools are on schedule to become active D-III members and elgible for the NCAA tournament begining with the 2016-17 season. Games against these five schools are still not considered as "in-region" games until next year.
• Centenary (La.) College have been approved to enter their fourth and final year of provisional membership. The former Division I school now participating in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) is scheduled to be eligible for the NCAA tournament in 2014. Games against Centenary are considered "in-region."
RULES INDENTIFIED FOR IMPROVED ENFORCEMENT
With a new rule book only being issued on a two-year cycle, there are no new rules or rule changes for this season. (Click here for the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Soccer Rules and Interpretations).
Some rules have been identified as needing more attention this season. Among them is the overtime rule (Rule 7.1.1) that requires that two sudden victory overtime periods of 10 minutes be played for all regular season games which are tied after the end of the second half. Apparently there were instances of the extra periods not being played by mutual consent of the coaches and other cases of the overtime period continuing after a goal was scored.
Referees are also being instructed to be more diligent in following the red card reporting protocol. There are different penalties for being ejected for fighting (namely a two-game suspension rather than just one game) and thus the referee must clearly inform the player, the head coach, and the official scorekeeper at the time of the ejection if it was issued for fighting. Furthermore, upon completion of the game the referee must verify that the fighting is indicated in the official box score before signing it and he must electronicially complete and file the fight reporting form with the NCAA within 24 hours of completion of the game.
Comments or feedback for the author? Email Christan Shirk.