Post #73 – 7/21/22 – Recruiting In Full Swing – Part II, USA Hockey Nat’l Dev. Camp Review, Grad Transfer Stats, Sifters
Latest From… The Women’s College Hockey Podcast – Episode #3A…
- Episode #3A Part I – Is Now LIVE|The Recap
In This Post…
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- Recruiting In Full Swing Part – II
- NCAA Transformation Coming
- USA Hockey Nat’l Dev Camp Review
- Grad Transfer Stats
Recruiting In Full Swing Part – II
Today we analyze what appears to be a changing landscape around college recruiting and the showcase/tournament style events coaches attend. Showcase, tournament, and camp/clinic event owner / operators could be facing big hurdles in the future as conditions within D-I recruiting, travel, and the NCAA – change.
Recruiting Event Landscape Changing…
There has been quite a bit of talk this summer amongst D-I coaches regarding the lack of real high-end talent and just even a good concentration of talent at events compared to prior years. One reason, there are more showcases, tournaments, and camps than ever. There are way more event operators in the showcase/tournament/camp/clinic space than ever before. Second, beyond what USA Hockey and Hockey Canada offer as part of their Nat’l Dev. Camps or High Performance initiatives, there is only so much talent to go around and only so many weeks to schedule events. We can think of weekend in June but prior to the June 15th call date where there were 4 and 5 major events goin on in the same weekend. Only a few showcase event operators continually attract potential D-I quality talent. We don’t track event rosters and where those participants end up playing college hockey D-I or D-III, but it sure would be interesting to see. For D-III coaches, its a much different story. The environment is great for D-III programs from a talent prospective. D-III staffs do have the same problem D-I coaches have – not enough staff and or $ in the recruiting budget to get to everything they’d like to. The number of players within the competitive player pool, as we call it, has increased. Travel costs have also increased significantly.
We’re probably seeing the D-I recruiting summer landscape change right before our eyes. Coaches want to go where the talent is, especially in the summer months as recruiting is far more targeted now than it used to be. Rosters for showcase/camp style events are extremely hard to come by. Tournaments, not so much. And yes, we know it’s a chicken and egg type of situation. Event/showcase operators need to promote coaches in their marketing materials so players will sign up. But, recruiting dollars aren’t unlimited. With as expensive as travel has become, programs will probably be very careful where they put their dollars to work. Coaches usually go to events for two reason either A) Identify new prospects or B) Evaluate prospects on their recruiting list–hopefully vs. excellent talent.
The takeaway is this, with an overall talent pool spread thin having to choose between multiple events, travels costs not expected to go down anytime soon, and a lot of events scheduled on the same week/weekends, D-I coaches are probably going to get more choosey with where they go in the future, especially in the summer months. And what could make matters worse, are potential looming changes to the women’s ice hockey recruiting calendar from the NCAA Transformation Committee which could drastically cut down the number of days coaches can be off campus to evaluate players.
NCAA Transformation Coming
Recruiting as we know it, is going to look and feel drastically different sooner than later due to upcoming changes from the NCAA Transformation Committee. How soon no one really knows. But why… is bigger more complicated question.
If you follow news about the NCAA then the NCAA Transformation Committee (‘NCAA TC’ for short) should be a group you are aware of. If you don’t, you need to, because college athletics is about to get real interesting. Unlimited scholarships for teams, players getting paid, flexible transfer rules, squad size limits, are all a very real possibility.
So who and what is this NCAA Transformation Committee and why does it exist?
The NCAA hasn’t had a real good track record with its own athletes or in the court system, or with public opinion. It has an image problem. NCAA athletes largely have been uncompensated employees while the NCAA, athletic departments, and high profile sport coaches have reaped billions, all on the backs of their own athletes’ efforts. The dollar amounts are staggering. Lawyers and the athletes realized they were being taken advantage of. Lawsuits followed, as did congressional hearings in Washington. And after a few social media posts from the 2020 NCAA D-I Women’s Basketball Tournament, the disparity in financial support the NCAA doesn’t give to it’s female sport counterparts became a tipping point. A third-party gender equity law-firm review was conducted and voila – you have an organization in real trouble with egg on its face and unless something drastic gets done, the lawsuits keep coming.
To right-the-ship, the NCAA put together a group of 21 people charged with changing how the NCAA operates, what it oversees, and what decisions it gets to make, and thus – the NCAA TC was born. The real plan for the NCAA seems to be figuring out how to transfer power, not get sued, and limit risk while improving its public image.
The NCAA TC is slowly tipping its hand at what will change and how things will be different. The full extent is not known quite yet, but here are some examples of what this group has already committed to changing.
- Set membership standards for each Division — I, II, and III. You want to compete at the D-I level, then your athletic department will have to abide by having a certain level of services and resources. What those are exactly isn’t known. Perhaps its in the area of providing adequate mental health professionals, diet/nutrition specialists, academic support services and the like. What the NCAA won’t decide, is how much money schools or sport programs have to spend in certain areas… like scholarships, etc.
- Do away with scholarship limits. Example… hockey has a limit of 18 full scholarships. The NCAA wants to do away with those limits and open it up to allow schools the freedom to spend as they wish.
- Squad Size Limits… the NCAA would dictate how large rosters could be. As an example, D-I hockey teams may be limited to having no more than a certain number of players on a roster.
- Do away with coaching staff limitations… The NCA would not mandate how many or how few coaches could be employed full-time to work with a team. Now, D-I Hockey has a limit of 3 full-time coaches + 1 volunteer… that could go away and you could have any number of coaches on staff. The number of coaches who could be in a recruiting capacity would be very similar to what staffs have now however. In hockey, this amounts to programs adding compensated skills or power skating/goalie coaches. Whereas before, program could have only volunteer, the prospect of hockey programs having many coaches is real.
- Recruiting calendars… This is the big one. Sports would have their own recruiting calendars with a pre-determined amount of weeks where no recruiting activities could take place. As an example, women’s hockey could have a period of up to 10 weeks per calendar year where no recruiting activities can take place… no player evaluations, no communication allowed with recruits, families, youth hockey/high school/club coaches… this is a complete evaluation and communication SHUTDOWN. D-I women’s hockey already has about 6 weeks where we can’t evaluate from the end of April (usually) until June 1. However, coaches can still communicate. Programs would have a certain number of ‘recruiting days’ to utilize per year to evaluate and potentially have NO limits on the number of evaluations or how often communication could take place. As an example, a D-I program may have 200 recruiting days to use as a staff combined between all coaches (not 200 per coach), and recruiting shut-downs would occur from say, around mid-April to mid-June (8 weeks), plus a week around the US July 4 holiday week and the week prior to Dec. 25… again – these dates are only used as examples for now.
- Enforcement of rules and who handles that aspect of regulation will change too. It could be the conferences themselves more involved? Perhaps a 3rd party entity will be created? Much is not known on who will control enforcing the rules. But one thing we can infer is, you can’t make major rule/policy changes to say – recruiting – without sorting out how enforcement will work. So until that happens, don’t expect recruiting or scholarship rules to change yet.
The above list is just a smattering of what will actually may change and unfortunately, no one knows exactly when all these will occur. Who will be in charge of managing scholarships, financial aid, and who can spend what? It will be largely up to the conferences or at least we thing that is the direction the NCAA TC could go. May be certain institutions? What is going on is a complete shift in who has power. In college athletics, power is who controls money and people (athletes/coaches in this case) and the NCAA wants out of that business. They’d much rather transfer their risk to others willing to take it on. Conferences have too much $ on the line with TV contracts, apparel deals, etc. to not be the ones to take over for the NCAA in regulating the day-to-day of how college athletics operates.
As things become known, we’ll keep you as up to date as we can. For clear-cut definition and roster of who sits in The NCAA TC, click HERE.
Update as of 9pm EST July 20, 2022… The NCAA’s D-I Council announced its endorsement of several recommendations from the Transformation Committee, “… to better support student-athletes, improve efficiency and timeliness in the infractions process, and improve clarity in the transfer environment.”
The big takeaway from tonight’s announcement has to do with clarity in the Transfer Process... Specifically 1) The transfer window will be open for athletes to transfer more than once. Previously it was one-time. 2) Beginning the day after the NCAA D-I Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament field is announced (and for all other winter-sports), athletes have a 60-day window to notify their current institution in writing their wish to enter the transfer portal. Using this year as an example, the 60-day window would have began Monday March 7, 2022 and ended Thursday May 5th. 3) Schools accepting transfers will be REQUIRED to provide financial aid (athletic scholarships) through the completion of the athlete’s 5th year of eligibility or when their degree is granted – whichever comes first.
The D-I Council’s recommendations must be approved by the D-I Board of Governors next month to be adopted. You may read the NCAA’s official announcement from tonight HERE.
USA Hockey Nat’l Dev Camp Observations
USA Hockey ends the busiest portion of its summer with the U18 Select Camp finishing up today. Yours truly attended the 15 Camp as well as the past 3 days of the U18 Select Camp. The only camp left to be held is the U18 final camp or 30 or so players usually, in early August to select the initial U18 World Championship roster. That team will then head to Calgary, Alberta for a 3-game series vs. Team Canada. Here are some observations…
- Lots of D-I coaches on hand for the 15 Camp (’07/’08 birth yrs)… not as many for the U18 Select Camp. And certainly plenty on hand at the 16/17 camp (’06/’05 birth yrs).
- USA Hockey made a change this year regarding 15 Camp attendees in that, no 15 Camp attendee would get selected for the the U18 Camp. Parents were not happy. The only way ’07’s were allowed to attend the U18 Camp was if they were selected to it in the first place. Where as 13 players from the 16/17 camp were selected to attend the U18 camp.
- 15 Camp is probably too long, especially for goalies. Goalies attended a USA Hockey goalie camp before the main camp. 4-5 days total would be plenty. 6 nights and 7 days for players or 10 & 9 for goalies (8 and 7 for staff), is way too much. Less is more. Especially if no one from camp is going to be moving on to the Select 18’s.
- Interesting numbers on penalties called at the U18 Select Camp. Too many?
|Game #||# of Penalties||Total # of Mins in GM||% of GM on Special Teams|
*Warning, personal opinion based rant… One final thought from an NCAA coaches perspective…
Everything that goes on at these types of camps matters. You can add in all the Canadian provincial and Hockey Canada camps as well. These camps become extremely important to NCAA D-I coaches. And what better eval do you want as a coach then to watch players in a best-on-best format? It’s great hockey to watch and we as coaches are thankful USA Hockey / Hockey Canada and the Canadian provinces put these events on. However…
Sometimes it appears the ‘importance’ of these event for college coaches gets lost in the mix. Let’s face it, NCAA coaches come to these events and leave making six-figure type decisions that will impact lives and livelihoods based on what they saw at these events. For decades now, NCAA programs have helped produce Team USA and Hockey Canada’s olympic and World Championship rosters. There is a lot at stake. The money alone that gets decided on out of these events is a lot. I’d be willing to bet in the U18 select camp alone, when all the college commitments and scholarship/financial aid offers get made, there was close to $12 million dollars on the ice this week. Not to mention what the 16/17 camp was worth. Heck, if every D-I scholarship or financial aid offer was an average of $40K per year, D-I alone commands about $40 million a year with 42 teams.
Camps are a ton of work, and you can’t make everyone happy. But when 5 on 5 play is only close to 70% or less of game play or a goalie session gets cancelled on the last day of camp and no one outside of USA Hockey knows about it, or roster info doesn’t get distributed until a certain point in an event… lack of those things matters. If the NCAA ever deregulates camps/clinics rules to allow coaches to hold invite only events, perhaps NCAA coaches will band together and organize their own best-on-best events themselves. But until then, with all that money & opportunity on the line, it would be nice to see a different thought process where everything matters.
21-22 Graduate Transfer Data
Last December, our Pipeline Blog Post had grad transfer data… rosters by team of graduate transfer players and statistics through the end of November. You can check it out here. Now that the season has ended, here is the the data for the 21-22 season which you can find HERE.
In all, 80 grad transfer players found their way on to D-I rosters this year. In a typical year, that’s about 1/3 of a incoming recruiting class across D-I. That means, 80 incoming freshman may not have had a spot. In addition to the 80 – 5th year grad transfers, who have now exhausted their NCAA eligibility, there are 200 or so Seniors graduating. That means the pool of next year 5th year grad transfers will come from this pool… but it won’t be all 200. 1) Seniors from Post, St. Mike’s, St. Anselms, RPI, Union, and all 6 Ivy League schools were not eligible for a 5th year. Players needed to be on a college hockey roster in 20-21 in order to get a ‘COVID 5th year’ from the NCAA.
In all, it looks like the grad transfer players were pretty productive with 18.5 points per player. 7.13 goals and 11.36 assists per player. Goalies averaged a save % of .926, GAA of 2.10, and 11.1 wins.
Little tidbits from around the world of women’s hockey…
- USA Hockey Moving On??? With the end of USA Hockey’s Nat’l Dev. Summer Camps in St. Cloud… we’re hearing rumblings it may indeed be the actual end of camps for USA Hockey in St. Cloud. Rumor is bids are being taken or will be, to host future camps. St. Cloud offered a nice combo of 2 sheets of ice, dorms, dining halls, and all the other services USA Hockey likes/needed to run its operation. No word on possible locations. That said, Lake Placid please???
- Best-of-Three In CHA… College Hockey America is changing its post-season playoff format to include the top four team in a 1v4 and 2v3 – best two-out-of-three format hosted by the high seed. Semi-final winners will move on to play a 1-game CHA Championship Game hosted by the highest remaining seed.
- ECAC Hires New Associate Commissioner… Nick Sczerbinski has been named new ECAC Associate Commissioner announced by the league office. Sczerbinski is no stranger to the ECAC having graduated from and worked in the athletic department at Quinnipiac University where he was associate athletic director for athletic communications. You can read more on his hiring HERE.
- WCHA Hires Interim Commissioner… With Jennifer Flowers departing the WCHA to take an Athletic Director position at Southwest Minnesota State University, the WCHA announced on July 5th former Bemidji State Athletic Director Tracy Dill, has been hired by the league on an interim basis and will begin his duties August 1. In its press release, the WCHA sighted the NCAA’s uncertainty with de-regulation and what the role of a commissioner or conference may be in the near future. You can read more on his hiring HERE. Rob DeGregorio, commissioner of the CHA and NEWHA will also step down as of the end of this coming season. The D-I landscape of commissioners will look very different at the end of next season.
- NCAA D-III Passes Legislation… Recently passed legislation at D-III will impact women’s ice hockey for the coming season. The biggest of which is the D-III National Championship Tournament will now be at 11 teams, up 1, from 10. You can read the NCAA’s official announcement HERE. Now the D-I and D-III national championships will have the same amount of teams – 11.
Until Next Time… Enjoy & Happy Reading!
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Grant Kimball is founder and contributing writer at Women’s College Hockey.org and beginning his 3rd season as an Assistant Coach with the Yale University women’s hockey program. Grant has developed an experienced perspective in the world of women’s ice hockey, having coached and recruited players from across the globe during his 25+ year amatuer and NCAA coaching career. He has coached at 6 NCAA DIII and DI programs in the NCHA (D3), the CHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the Ivy League (DI). Beyond coaching, Grant served as a site representative for the 2019 NCAA quarterfinal of the D-I NCAA Tournament. He also currently serves as an Officer with the American Hockey Coaches Association as Vice President of Membership and sits on the AHCA’s Women’s Hockey Executive Committee.