I’m not sure I agree with most of the posts on Facebook that would like to see an extra year of wrestling given to those who were denied the final weekend of the season.
I certainly understand everyone’s frustration, but this isn’t the first-time something like this has happened.
There were no championships in 1943, 1944, or 1945 either. The reason is quite obvious, World War II. Not only was the tournament canceled during those years, but many collegiate teams discontinued wrestling all together during that time.
And, although is wasn’t the NCAA’s, there was 1980, when 20 well deserving athletes didn’t get a chance to win Olympic Gold and instead, were forced to choke down a streak dinner at the White House.
As to the counter points relative to extending another year of wrestling, here are a few.
98% of the season has been wrestled. Matches won, matches lost, qualifiers completed. Out of the 40 or so matches, on average, that wrestlers compete in every season, for well over 90% of this years competitors, their season had ended.
So, we’re only talking about less than 10% who didn’t get a chance to complete the year.
On what basis is it reasonable to say that everyone should receive a fifth year of competition, when so many had already completed theirs?
Remember, when we make blanket statements like, “everyone should get another year,” the term everyone, means just that, everyone.
Then one might ask, is this reasonable, or fair, to the thousands of athletes that came before this years group.
Now, I know the cries are for those wonderful, hard-working, and accomplished athletes who were denied their shot at a national title, and we have to remember, that’s in all three of the NCAA Divisions, just not D-I.
But what does it mean, if you take your thinking beyond the empathy you feel for those who no longer have shots at national titles, or All-American certificates?
Let’s take a closer look.
How many individual records might fall? Why is it fair, or reasonable, to provide athletes from this year with another full year of eligibility so they could possibly amass records that would usurp those who set theirs before them, in four years?
Why is it right to give Lee, as an example, 5 shots at the Hodge, or Schalles Awards, when Dake and Stieber, as examples, only had four. The same is true for amassing the most wins in a career, or takedowns, or tech falls, etc.
What about the tremendous financial burden this would create on the institutions themselves? Certainly, an Iowa or Penn State could weather the storm, but what about the less affluent, and smaller D-I and D-II programs? Where do they go to get the additional 50k to 200k in scholarship aid for their fifth-year returners?
Remember, most of the lesser schools have already sucked dry alumni giving and community support. How would they pay for say 13.5 scholarships instead of 9.9? They don’t have a money tree out back.
Hmm, I wonder, might it be easier for them, could they use this financial burden as the excuse for deciding to discontinue wrestling at their institutions?
It could happen, that exact reason has been used before, almost exclusively for dropping programs. And it wouldn’t come across as being the schools, or the AD’s fault. “You know, it’s that darn NCAA. They’re coming up with rules that we can’t afford.
What about the underclassmen who redshirted this year, with the understanding that the varsity wrestler in their weight was graduating? Now they’re going to lose a year of varsity competition because they’re sitting the bench behind someone who’s already had four years of eligibility.
Does that sound fair? Or do all the underclassmen get special compensation and a fifth year of wrestling as well?
Are you beginning to see the unintended consequences of all this?
How about the various service academies. Those athletes have obligations beyond wrestling. They’re in, and they’re out in 4 years. There’s no fifth, or sixth, or seventh year for Uncle Sam’s boys. So, why would it be fair to extend another opportunity to others, and not them?
Another thought; would the NCAA, upon giving everyone another year, allow graduating high school seniors who signed at X, Y, or Z universities to negate their letters of intent and start the process over again?
It’s only fair, because Johnny might have signed with Penn State knowing that Hall was graduating and he would step right in and be their 174-pounder next season.
But not anymore.
Or, what about the redshirt freshman who did sit this season waiting for Hall to graduate. He’s locked in and next year he’s sitting the bench again and losing a year of eligibility. Can anyone say technical violation?
There are always unintended consequences. I’m sure there are more than I covered here, but you get the idea.
If you ask me to come up with a solution, the best I could do would be this. Allow the Top 4 seeds in each weight class to show up in Minnesota’s wrestling room next week, after each of the 40 have passed Coronavirus testing, and wrestle it out. No fans, no coaches, 4 referees and there you go.
The odds are 96.372% for the above, I made that number up if you wonder where the figure came from, that you have the best kid in the country in every weight out of the Top 4 seeds.
Is that ideal, heck no. But you’ll end up with 10 NCAA Champions and it’s the best let’s meet in the middle solution that the NCAA won’t approve.
There’s no doubt, what happened is a shame. Actually, it’s a damn shame. I really feel for the athletes who worked so hard for a crack at the pinnacle of our collegiate season. But, using part of old saying, what doesn’t kill you, might someone else if we would have allowed this year’s tournament to go forward. Nothing is worth that.
Just as the athletes from the 40’s and in 1980 have learned to shrug their shoulders, and move on, this too is being handled so much better by the athletes, than the fans.
And with crystal ball in hand, I’m afraid this crisis is far from over. The Olympics could very well be in jeopardy, and, if the CDC isn’t able to get a handle on this, Fall sports might be affected as well.