PHOENIX, Arizona, June 7. MANY swimmers, numbering in the hundreds, will miss the opportunity to participate in the Division I NCAA championships by mere tenths of seconds. Many of those swimmers will come from the mid-major schools that rarely get the opportunity to shine at a national championship event, but Grand Canyon University swimming head coach Steve Schaffer has been working to change that.
In an letter sent to members of the College Swim Coaches Association of America today, Schaffer informed college coaches of a meet he is organizing outside of Dallas that will feature “Division 1 programs (or those in transition to DI) with swimmers who have Division I B cuts and are trying to move their swimmers/programs to the next level.”
In reference to the parenthetical statement about teams “in transition to DI,” Schaffer is referring primarily to his team, which will start the four-year process of becoming a Division I school this fall. This means his swimmers will not be able to participate in the NCAA championships (either Division I or II) until 2017. The University of the Incarnate Word is another team making the transition to Division I at the same time as Grand Canyon, so this meet would benefit them as well.
With the meet set for March 23-25 (between the women's and men's Division I championships), it would provide many teams with swimmers on the qualification bubble that opportunity to race at the end of March in a high-class facility. In this case, it's the Rockwall ISD Aquatics Facility outside Dallas.
Below is the letter sent to the CSCAA membership:
I am writing to you to invite your team to participate in a new and unique invitational in 2014. The CSCAA Collegiate Invitational will provide a post conference meet to showcase Division 1 programs (or those in transition to DI) with swimmers who have Division I B cuts and are trying to move their swimmers/programs to the next level.
I have been thinking about this idea for a few years now since Grand Canyon University first considered a move to DI. I needed to find a way to provide my swimmers with a competition that would provide a post-season opportunity after our conference championship since we will not be eligible for the DI championships for 4 years as we move through the reclassification process. The meet needed to have a high standard as a main tenant of the event is to help in development process for our athletes who are moving towards the NCAA Division I Championship, but haven't quite made the leap I think the meet can serve a large number of DI programs — consider that even with the new selection procedures which have helped mid-majors, only 37.8% of all DI women's programs and 38.1% of all DI men's programs got one or more swimmers into NCAA meet.
In thinking about a possible solution I looked at the NIT Basketball Tournament and non-BCS football bowl games as analogous opportunities in other college sports for what I was looking to have for college swimming. Just like the NIT provides a post season showcase for the college basketball teams which aspire to make it to the NCAA Tournament, we could have a post season meet that was for swimmers and teams aspiring to make it to the DI championships. It could be used as a stepping stone to the next level.
The meet will be held about 25 miles NW of Dallas, TX at the Rockwall ISD Aquatics Facility built in 2009. It is one of the top swimming and diving facilities in the state. Olympic gold medalist Neil Walker is the Aquatics Director. 50 meter x 25 yard facility, two bulkheads — 8.5 — 13.5 ft deep; a separate 4 lane 25 yard warm up/teaching pool. The meet will be Sunday-Tuesday, March 23-25. We put it between the DI women's and men's meets so we would not overlap with the NCAA DI Women's or Men's meets and we did not want to extend the season past the DI men's meet. Sun-Tues also means one less class day missed as opposed to Mon-Wed.
Please contact me if you are interested in participating in the meet, or if you have any questions.
Head Coach, Men's & Women's Swimming
Grand Canyon University
cell: (602) 403-8774
office: (602) 639-6913
fax: (480) 270-3807