The NCAA has released its pre-selection psych sheets for the 2021 NCAA Division II women’s and men’s Swimming & Diving Championships. But rules on required minimum competitions have once again caused controversy, with at least one team forced to add two last-minute meets after their waiver was denied.
The cutlines should come later this week. You can read the full selection criteria here. 130 men and 130 women should be invited to the meet via swimming, with 16 men and 16 women qualifying for diving. That’s a sizable reduction compared to previous years, as the NCAA cut down on participant numbers at Division II championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year’s NCAA Division II Championships were canceled in the middle of the meet as the pandemic rapidly spread across the globe.
Denied Waivers & Last-Minute Meets
Last year, Division II moved to a new rule requiring each team to have eight ‘bona fide’ competitions against other four-year schools. The bona fide competitions require each team to enter at least 11 swimmers of each gender, causing issues for programs with smaller rosters or limited meet schedules.
That caused major controversy right away, with two programs (Alaska-Fairbanks women and Tiffin men) not appearing on the psych sheets despite having likely qualifiers.
This year, the NCAA reduced the minimum competition requirement to five, with the coronavirus pandemic cutting down on travel and on meet roster sizes. But even that lower number has continued to cause some controversy.
If a team can’t meet the five-meet minimum, the NCAA has a waiver process that schools can submit. But last week, multiple schools were informed that their waivers had been denied, forcing some late scrambling.
At least two teams were forced to add last-minute meets after their waivers were denied, including one team that had to add two meets this week.
St. Cloud State rushed in meets on Monday and Tuesday of this week, just in time to re-submit their appeal. St. Cloud State would have been a major absence from the national meet – they have the 4th-ranked 50 freestyler (Abe Townley) on the men’s side, along with the 5th-ranked 200 backstroker (Raf Hendriks).
Saginaw Valley State also had to sneak in an additional meet this week to hit the NCAA’s minimum criteria. They don’t have any swimmers in line for an invite, but should have three divers competing at NCAAs.
We contacted an NCAA Championships representative who said that denied waivers didn’t meet the NCAA’s criteria: “The swimming and diving committee with the assistance of the academic and membership affairs department reviews the waivers. Anything rejected would be because it didn’t meet the criteria of receiving a waiver.”