An NCAA “B” standard, without an equivalent invited time, doesn’t mean as much as it used to. Most years, there are dozens of swimmers in each event with “B” time standards that aren’t invited to the NCAA Championships, and those swimmers are left to race against high school swimmers at sectional USA Swimming meets as their post-conference championship event.
Grand Canyon University head coach Steve Schaffer is in an even more unique situation. Specifically, as they transition to the NCAA’s Division I next season, they will be ineligible to compete in the NCAA Championships for the next four years.
And so Schaffer, in cooperation with Division I Rice and Division II Incarnate Word (who is also transitioning to Division I) devised an alternative post-season event to the NCAA Championship that will be called the CSCAA Invitational and held in Rockwall, Texas, about 25 miles northwest of Dallas. The meet will run from March 23rd-25th (Sunday-Tuesday), which are the days in between Minnesota hosting the women’s NCAA Championship and Texas hosting the men’s NCAA Championship.
“In thinking about a possible solution I looked at the NIT Basketball Tournament and non-BCS football bowl games as analogous opportunities in other college sports for what I was looking to have for college swimming,” Schaffer described. “Just like the NIT provides a post season showcase for the college basketball teams which aspire to make it to the NCAA Tournament, we could have a post season meet that was for swimmers and teams aspiring to make it to the DI championships. It could be used as a stepping stone to the next level.”
The idea is a popular one, and one that several other teams have batted around but never been able to put together in a concrete manner like GCU, Rice, and Incarnate Word have been able to.
Western Kentucky, IUPUI, TCU, UNC-Wilmington, Duquesne, and Arkansas-Little Rock have already expressed interest.
“The meet needed to have a high standard as a main tenant of the event is to help in development process for our athletes who are moving towards the NCAA Division I Championship, but haven’t quite made the leap,” Schaffer explained “I think the meet can serve a large number of DI programs – consider that even with the new selection procedures which have helped mid-majors, only 37.8% of all DI women’s programs and 38.1% of all DI men’s programs got one or more swimmers into NCAA meet.”
The meet will be exclusively an NCAA meet in terms of rules and teams invited, and will be open to Division I teams, teams transitioning from Division II to Division I, and teams transitioning from NAIA to Division II.
“A” times for the CSCAA Invitational will be the same as the Division I NCAA Championship Consideration standards, and “B” times for the CSCAA Invitational will be 5% higher than the Invitational “A” standards. Swimmers must have an ‘A’ time to swim at the meet, and can swim anything they have a “B” time in (up to the normal 3 individual event time limit.)