Bob Emery, chair of the Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, took time recently to address some of the issues coming out of the annual meetings, held this year May 5-8 in Beaver Creek, Colo.
High on the agenda in May were issues concerning site selection, officiating, and bracket size for the Division III championships. A major result of the meetings was the decision to submit a proposal asking that the size of the NCAA tournament be increased from its current eight slots to 10, beginning with the 2001-2002 season.
There’s no certainty such a proposal will be approved by the NCAA, however. The current ratio for Division III championships is one slot for every 7.5 teams. There are currently 65 programs eligible for the tournament, so an additional 10 schools would have to be added to ensure the expansion. The committee is asking for an exception.
“I have no idea what will happen,” said Emery, the Plattsburgh State head coach. “It’s a formality at this point. We’re asking.”
A proposal to increase the Division I tournament from 12 to 16 teams was shot down for the second straight year in May.
The Division III championships field has been comprised of eight teams since its inception in 1984. However, an increase in the number of programs eligible for the tournament, as well as changes made to the selection process in 1999 that increased the number of automatic qualifiers from two to six, has intensified the desire to expand the current field. The field for hockey is the smallest of any of the major Division III men’s sports.
The committee also decided on several points of emphasis for future site selection, most involving facilities and amenities for the athletes. The quality and size of locker rooms and training facilities is high on the list.
“We want to make the championships a positive experience for the student-athletes,” said Emery. “The facility is obviously a major component.”
Another recommendation of the committee is to change the current way officials are assigned for the games. In recent years, the officials have been from within the geographic region of the host school, and in some cases have primarily worked Division I games during the season.
The committee made it clear that it wants the best available officials who worked mostly Division III games during the regular season.
“We want to make sure we have the officials with the highest recommendations, regardless of region,” Emery said. “We have no problem flying them to the games from other parts of the country to make sure we have the best ones available.”
Also approved by the committee were recommendations to begin the semifinals and finals 30 minutes earlier to allow for media outlets to obtain results before their deadlines, and to make an attempt to rotate the finals from the East region to the West region “when possible.” Last year’s semifinals and finals were held in Superior, Wis., after being in the East for three consecutive years.