You vill NOT exercise!

(Crossposted at SCSU Scholars)

I had breakfast this morning, as I do many mornings, with some people associated with our university’s athletics department. This morning we were talking about the voluntary training sessions for our football players. We are a D-II program (a pretty good one, though last week’s loss at Omaha hurt our chances for the playoffs), and we’re amazed by the size of our players. One fellow said that this was because of year-round conditioning programs, all of which are voluntary. Quarterbacks organize skill player sessions to catch footballs and run routes in the spring; lifting and running are year-round, with some groups meeting in the morning and others in the afternoon. All of this NOT under the watchful eye of a coach, because that would be formal training.

That we can’t have, because the NCAA says this is unfair. And so the University of Memphis was sanctioned on Friday for having too much formal training of its women’s volleyball team.

In the volleyball case, the committee investigated reports in seasons from 2000 to 2003 that the women’s team was required to participate in individual skill instruction during the spring. Only voluntary instruction is allowed under NCAA rules.

Under the probation, the volleyball program must reduce its number of practices and hours spent conditioning.

From the team’s website:

The Tiger volleyball team was cited for a series of secondary violations that occurred over a three-year period that, when taken together, constitute a major violation. The violations were inadvertent but the coaching staff agreed with the NCAA that the staff had knowledge of legislation on playing and practice sessions and had a responsibility to ensure the volleyball program complied with the legislation limiting athletically related activities.

The volleyball program will receive two years probation, as well as a public reprimand and censure. The team will have its preseason practice opportunities shortened from 29 practices to 26 and spring conditioning will be reduced by one-week. The head coach is required to attend an NCAA Compliance Seminar at her own expense and will not attend one-week of spring conditioning. The coach will also have a letter of reprimand placed in her personnel file.

So who benefits from this? Obviously, the teams that compete against Memphis. Anyone care to guess who turned them in? What do you want to bet that the Tigers’ volleyball team’s success increased right around the 2000-03 seasons? Sure enough

1999 11-22
2000 13-20
2001 22-10
2002 19-15
2003 30-6
2004 27-10

Just as predicted years ago by Fleisher, Goff and Tollison, teams that suddenly become more successful are much more likely to face NCAA scrutiny. The story then was about money sports like football and basketball. Has it reached even women’s volleyball now?

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