INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, January 10. RECENTLY, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) asked the NCAA to delay the introduction of FINA-approved suits as of January 1, 2012, to help alleviate potential issues with cost and availability for college teams heading into the college championship season.
This request, along with much of the lobbying efforts by CSCAA members, was denied by the NCAA citing the legislative technicalities that such rules would need to be implemented as part of a standard rules and regulations creation process.
The quick takeaway is that the NCAA will enforce the rule as it stands that allowable suits "should contain the International Certification Trademark (i.e. FINA barcode)."
Here is the full response from Brian Gordon, the NCAA's Swimming and Diving Secretary-Rules Editor:
This memo is being sent to the Swimming & Diving membership in response to a number of communications that have been received concerning permissible swimsuits for the 2011-2012 season. Concerns have been raised regarding the legality of suits that have recently been brought to market by various manufacturers both domestically and internationally. These suits will be allowable in NCAA competition provided they meet NCAA rule 3-1-d-4 which states "the suit should contain the International Certification Trademark" (i.e. FINA barcode).
There is currently no language in the NCAA Swimming & Diving playing rules that regulates the areas of cost and availability. In addition, the NCAA does not restrict the use of equipment based solely on cost or availability. Concerns that the equipment was not available at the beginning of the qualifying period or that it may not be available for all institutions would be considered issues of availability. Those are concerns that need to be addressed by institutions, conferences and/or manufacturers.
Additionally, banning the use of equipment that was not approved by a specific date would necessitate a rules change. The NCAA operates under a two-year rules cycle and is currently in the "off-year" for rules changes. The Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) would consider rules change proposals in an off-year if an urgent need for change presented itself. However, it is unlikely that PROP would consider a change in the middle of the academic year unless there was a concern for student-athlete safety.
A proposal to implement a deadline by which all equipment must be approved for the entire qualifying period could be reviewed in the future, but based on the rules change process and the potential implications that would result from retroactively implementing a deadline, the equipment that is used this year is not required to have been approved by September 7, 2011.