In trying to sort out the issues stemming from the new selection criteria rolled out by the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee last week, we’ve looked at one of the biggest: the differences between the old and the new as it relates to a real scenario.
Here’s another: Which games count as being played at a neutral site?
The criteria will weight results based on where the game is played, with teams getting an extra reward for winning on the road. Neutral-site games, meanwhile, receive no extra weight. But I’ve always had some uncertainty as to what qualifies for neutral status.
Some of them are obvious. When Clarkson plays New Hampshire at the Ice Breaker tournament at Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena, that’s a neutral site.
Some are a little less clear. How about when Rochester Institute of Technology takes a home game against Michigan to Blue Cross Arena in Rochester? How about RIT’s outdoor game against Niagara?
Does Minnesota have home games at the Xcel Energy Center in the North Star College Cup?
We asked the NCAA for some clarification, and we got these set of guidelines:
Home/Away/Neutral Site Games
The following guidelines and examples are for regular-season and postseason contests.
Team A is playing Team B. For results and the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), the game is considered a “home” game for Team A and an “away” game for Team B if the site of the contest:
• is the regular home site for Team A. Example: The Tennessee baseball team is hosting a tournament and is listed as the visitor for its game with Ball State. It is considered a home game for Tennessee since it is still the Vols’ home field.
• is in the same city or a reasonable distance within the metropolitan area of Team A, and its opponent, Team B, is from outside the metro area. Example: The Butler women’s basketball team has scheduled a home game with Tennessee and wants to move to a larger arena to accommodate an expected larger crowd. The game is moved to Conseco Fieldhouse, which is still in the same metro area as Butler and just a few miles away. It still is considered Butler’s home game.
• is in the same city or a reasonable distance within the metropolitan area of both teams and one team, Team A, is designated as the home team and includes the game in its season-ticket package. Example: The College of Charleston men’s basketball team is playing host to Charleston Southern. The game is moved to a larger arena to accommodate an expected larger crowd. The game is played in the North Charleston Coliseum, which is still in the same metro area of both teams. It is considered the College of Charleston’s home game since it is designated as such and is included in the season-ticket package. This game is not included in the Charleston Southern season-ticket package. In fact, the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern meet every year and rotate which team is the designated home team and includes the game in its season-ticket package. If both or neither team includes this game in its season-ticket package, then the game would be a neutral site game for both teams.
• is in the same area of Team A and Team A plays some or several “home” games there each season. Oftentimes these games are included in the season ticket package offered by the school. Example: The Connecticut men’s basketball team plays some of its home games in its hometown of Storrs; however, the Huskies play most of their games in nearby Hartford. Both sites are considered home sites.
• is in a city close by Team A and Team A designates the game as a “home” game that will count in its home attendance. The game is also included in the season ticket package offered by the school. Example: Ole Miss men’s basketball team plays a game every two to three years in Tupelo, Mississippi, which is 48 miles away from Oxford. Ole Miss always counts it as a home game and includes the game in its season home attendance.
• is a temporary “home” site while the regular home site for Team A is being renovated. Example: McGaw Hall on the Northwestern campus is being renovated, which forces the Northwestern basketball teams to move all their home games from Evanston to nearby Chicago and play in DePaul’s home arena. These games are considered home games for Northwestern since that is where the Wildcats are playing their scheduled home games during the renovation.
• is a nearby temporary emergency site while the regular home site for Team A is being repaired. Example: Owensboro Sportscenter at Kentucky Wesleyan was damaged in a tornado. This forces Kentucky Wesleyan to move its basketball home game with Southern Indiana to a nearby high school gymnasium while the Sportscenter is being repaired. Since this game was played in a nearby temporary set-up, it is still considered a home game for Kentucky Wesleyan. However, if no area arenas or gymnasiums are available and the game is moved the 40 miles away to Southern Indiana’s home court, then the game is now considered a home game for Southern Indiana.
Team A is playing Team B. For results and RPIs, the game is considered a “neutral site” game for both teams if the site of the contest:
• is at another school that is hosting a tournament. Example: The Kansas State women’s volleyball team is hosting a tournament. Arizona and Texas A&M play each other in a match in Manhattan. It’s a neutral site match for both teams.
• is at another school that is hosting a tournament, even though Team A is from the same metro area as the host school and Team B is not. Example: The Temple women’s lacrosse team is hosting a tournament and Villanova plays a game against Auburn. Although Temple and Villanova are both in Philadelphia, since Temple is hosting the tournament on its campus site, only games involving Temple would have a home site. All other games would be counted as neutral sites.
• is in the same city or metropolitan area of both teams and is not the home site for either team. Example: The Temple women’s basketball team is playing Villanova and the game is being played in the Spectrum. The Wells Fargo Center is in Philadelphia and is not the regular home site for either team even though both teams are from Philadelphia. It’s a neutral site game for both teams. The only exception is if Temple was scheduled to host the game and decided to move it to the Wells Fargo Center (a larger arena) to accommodate an expected larger crowd. Then it is Temple’s home game and Villanova’s away game.
• is not in the metropolitan area for either team. Example: The city of Denver is the site for a softball game between Southern Colorado of Pueblo and Air Force of Colorado Springs. It’s a neutral site game for both teams.
Since the determination of home/away and neutral site games can sometimes be a complicated issue, a school can appeal to the NCAA for exceptions to the rule.
• Example: Butler is playing Indiana in men’s basketball at Conseco Fieldhouse. By all indications this should be a home game for Butler since the arena is located in the same city (Indianapolis) as Butler and just a few miles from the campus. IU is in Bloomington, which is 47 miles away from Indianapolis. However, it was IU which contracted the game with Butler and rented the arena, and IU’s conference, the Big Ten, which assigned the game officials. The game was not a part of either team’s season ticket package, but was included as an option with the season tickets for priority purchasing for that game by both teams. In this case, the game will be designated as a neutral site game.
• Sometimes a team’s large fan base could come into play. If a school moves its game to a larger arena or stadium still within its home city to accommodate for an anticipated larger crowd because of the opponent school’s large fan base within that city, the game could be counted as a neutral site game.
• For Division I men’s basketball starting with the 2007-08 season, consideration is given to who controlled the game tickets, who hired the referees and other game officials, the game’s inclusion on a season ticket package, and so on.
For purposes of attendance, some games considered home and away in the RPI may be switched to neutral site games, and vice versa.
It should be noted that these are guidelines, and the final say is with the committee. So we’ll really have to wait on their rulings on those games mentioned above and others.
My initial impression from reading the guidelines is that both of those RIT games in question are home games for the Tigers. As for the new Minnesota tournament, the Gophers have been cited as the tournament’s permanent host but when they played the Icebreaker in the same building in 2007 the games were listed as neutral.
When we get more definitive word from the committee, we’ll pass it along and make sure our schedules are correct.