NCAA Reveals Peculiar Choice for 2014 S&D Division II Hosts

  6 Braden Keith | November 01st, 2012 | College, News

The NCAA has chosen a bit of a peculiar choice to host the 2014 Division II Swimming & Diving Championships: Cleveland’s SPIRE Institute.

See Division I Men’s and Women’s hosts, revealed yesterday.

The choice isn’t peculiar because of the quality of SPIRE’s facilities. The 10-lane, 50-meter pool with a separate 25-yard warm-up/cool-down pool is more than adequate to host a meet of this size; rather it is because the NCAA yanked this same meet from the SPIRE Institute in 2013. After concerns over the location of the pool, and specifically the location of the hotels that were 45 minutes away, the NCAA instead moved the event clear across the country to Birmingham, Alabama.

The difference would seem to be that this event, at least as was announced yesterday, doesn’t appear to be a “Winter Sports Festival,” rather it will have these Winter sporting events spread out at different spots around the country.

The Festivals have been used off-and-on by the NCAA’s lower divisions for the last few years with varying degrees of success; the biggest challenge has been the logistics of housing so many athletes and support staff within close proximity of a multi-sport event.

The 2013 event was slated to include Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field (in 2014 – held in Raleigh, N.C.); and wrestling (also to be held in Cleveland, but at a different venue an hour away).

The pool is brand new, and has been considered by USOC officials as a possible training and competition venue. That’s specifically because it is a full-service training center, competition center, research and nutrition center on a 280,000 square foot piece of land. Really, it is too nice of a venue for the NCAA to pass up giving it a second hosting chance.

For a full listing of the 54 (out of 89) championships announced for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, click here.

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6 Comments on "NCAA Reveals Peculiar Choice for 2014 S&D Division II Hosts"

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3 years 11 months ago

With the event not being a Winter Festival it eliminates the hotel requirement for participating teams that was one of the biggest issues with D2 coaches this year. Now teams are free to stay wherever they choose, including closer to the Spire Center, and that alone should eliminate some of the main concerns expressed this year.

3 years 11 months ago

I’ve been on site and have concerns, especially for a national championship. The SPIRE folks are passionate, knowledgeable, friendly and overly accommodating, but that doesn’t compensate for a few issues that need to be addressed and a few that are out of their control. The swimming course appears to be national caliber; however, the diving facilities are not what you would expect at a national finale.

1. Lodging – there is a Motel 6 within a .5 mile, but it has exterior entrances to the rooms. Five miles away is a 40 unit Hampton Inn and a Sleep Inn. I believe the Sleep Inn has exterior doors as well. The closest full service hotel of size is the Quail Hollow Resort which is 20 minutes by highway. 170 rooms plus 4 suites. I’m not sure there are enough rooms for the competitors let alone the fans. Combined championships? Definitely not enough rooms. There is talk of dorms being constructed on site or a couple of hotels building on site which would help tremendously.

2. Diving venue – As currently configured, there isn’t a separate diving well and in actuality, the boards are on the side of the competition course. While the boards are good, the standards are not. Steel tubing for standards, tight side rails, etc. SPIRE has pledged to install “portable” Durafirm standards which would be a step down for most as cement standards are the expectation at a national championship. A decision would have to be made to either hold diving at Cleveland State and in essence establish a separate championship for those events, or hold it at SPIRE and accept substandard equipment. The location of the boards makes the competition course either a diving well or a swimming course but not both. Logistics for warm-up will be tough.

3. Locker rooms – two with four shower heads in each and about 40 lockers per room. Approximately 800-900 square feet each. The practice pool has two more locker rooms of equivalent size. Not enough room.

4. Food – this should work and teams should utilize this option. With on site dining space for 400-600 and two kitchens / serving areas, the athletes could stay after sessions and have their nutritional and caloric needs addressed.

5. Weather – this is the big one. Geneva, Ohio is the snow belt and a 20 minute highway commute can easily turn into an hour commute. Exterior hotel doors become a major liability. We’re talking mid-March – buyer beware!

I am a big fan of SPIRE and the staff there, but I don’t think it is wise to host a combined, winter national championship there – yet. Hopefully the previously mentioned issues can be addressed as I would love to see the SPIRE folks get a shot and succeed.

3 years 11 months ago


all good points. I don’t know much about DII diving but I believe there are a few coaches that are heavily responsible for both swimming and diving so don’t know how much those folks would go for split facilities.

why would CSU be a viable option for diving but not the swimming? Seems like a better facility with all things considered for a Nat’l championship (proximity to airports, hotels and bigger/better hotel agreements, food, fan seating, team seating, diving facility, extra, extra warmup/down space, huge locker rooms, etc. etc., fast pool – that’s always a plus as well.

my .02

3 years 11 months ago

Hi Greg,

I’m very familiar with SPIRE as well, and I agree that the staff and athletic facilities are amazing…possibly one of the fastest pools in the world. However, I think you have some of your facts wrong.

Regarding the hotels, you missed a few key hotels in the vicinity including the Ramada (right by the Sleep Inn), Baymont Inn and Suites, and the Lodge at Geneva, which is a spectacular full service hotel. There are other smaller hotels, and beautiful offseason condos that are perfect for visiting teams and families.

Regarding the diving venue, it’s my understanding that SPIRE is in the process of upgrading all four of their platforms (3 and 1m). You mention “portable” Duraflex stands, and I think that’s slightly misleading with a negative connotation. I believe they are looking at high performance permanent anchor stands with the Duraflex fulcrums and wide rails. The only thing portable about them is that SPIREs event staff may take the stands down for large non-diving competitions. As you probably know they will be the host site for USA-Swimming Sectionals, the USA-Swimming Central Zone Championship, USA Masters National Championship, several large club and college water polo tournaments, and other various high level swim competitions hosted by their club team. In fact, they are hosting a large invite this month, and I’ve heard they have over 1,200 swimmers registered. They also just hosted the USA Paralympics Training Camp, and have done extensive work in supporting Paralympic athletes (they were recently named the official training site of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, and were elected for 2012 Olympic Opportunity Fund by U.S. Paralympics, a division of the USOC). So it makes sense to have an option that satisfies the highest level of diving performance, while also accommodating world class swim and water polo competition, and U.S. Paralympics.

Regarding locker rooms, I think you’re way off on your numbers. Each locker room is over 1,000 sq ft, with over 120 lockers in each. So you are looking at about 500 lockers (250 lockers for the men, and 250 lockers for the women). I also believe they have about 16 shower heads for each the men and women. Not too shabby. And on the topic of way-off on numbers, I think you’re about 1,000 shy on the number of people they can feed in their dining facilities…the place is amazing!

I’m a big fan of SPIRE as well, and not only are they getting a shot to succeed, but they’re crushing it. On the events side they’re also hosting the Big 10 and Big East Indoor Track and Field Championships, MAC Women’s Volleyball Championship, NAIA T&F National Championship, Atlantic 10 Swimming and Diving Championship, among other massive events. I also heard that several DI and DII teams are coming to SPIRE for team training camps. In addition, they opened the Academy program this year with over 40 student athletes, not including their incredible camps program, and have Olympians, NCAA All-Americans, and international athletes in the training program. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Been to Spire too!
3 years 11 months ago

I have also been to Spire, and swam in the pool and used the facilities. Everything is top shelf. The pool is the identical design to the one used at Trials on Omaha, built by the same guys. It is fast. If you don’t believe me, swim in it. You will agree. They have the largest club team in Northeast Ohio affiliated with and training at the facility. They have landed many top USA swimming events coming up. Some of the fastest age group swimmers in Ohio train there – including several Ohio High School champions.

Diving – sounds like they are improving it. Be patient. 2014 champs are over a year away, and you probably haven’t see what the folks at Spire can do in a year. I have. I saw a field and 9 months later viewed an Olympic class facility.

Feeding – Immediately adjacent to the pool deck there is a catering facility/restaurant that can easily seat 1500 on two floors. The track building has a banquet hall that has to seat an equal amount of folks on a bad day.

Hotels – Yes, there are some facilities close, and there are more facilities further away. My question is the – When the team is on the charter bus being transported to the facility, are they counting the mile markers on the great freeway access or are they enjoying each other’s camaraderie. I would suspect the later – so what’s the difference between a 10 minute ride and a 30 minute ride. The 45 minutes in the article is incorrect – Mapquest it yourself. 30 minutes. Any major convention uses the number of rooms within 30-40 minutes as a benchmark. Once again, Spire passes! Be patient here also, as they have a long-term plan for this too.

As for CSU – yes the locker rooms are bigger, the platforms for diving are concrete, but that’s about all the 30+ year old facility has on Spire. Fan accomodations are like night and day compared to Spire. Parking and traffic flow are a problem. Hotels downtown are expensive. Travel time to similar (actually the same hotels) may be a bit shorter, but it also involves driving on downtown streets. All in all – Spire is a better choice.

Weather – Yes it is Northeast Ohio – but anywhere in the country can have weather issues. Look at this week – Who would have thought a hurricane would do so much damage in NYC ans surrounding areas. We’ve had political conventions shorted due to weather also. Olympic Trials were held in Tornado Alley during tornado season.

Swimswam – don’t knock it until you have tried it. Greg – you really need to take a second look and adjust your facts. I am a Spire fan as is everyone that sees the facility.

3 years 11 months ago

Folks, if you think Spire is something to write home about, you’ve certainly got it all wrong !

A Chap in South Africa has been working on a project for the past two years and when complete, it will be the largest, state of the art, Sports Academy of its kind in the World. I’m told that big money has been thrown at the project. Situated on 800 Hectares (1976 Acres), of which 500 Hectares (1235 Acres) are dedicated to Sports Facilities and Accommodation – I believe they have criss-crossed the planet in order to secure the very best of everything. They will be offering close on 50 different Sports disciplines, making full use of a Resident Team of hand picked Coaches from around the World. Apparently there will be in excess of 45 different out-door natural & synthetic turf Playing Fields, 120 out-door Courts, X-Treme Sports Facilities, a High Performance Centre and an Aquatic Complex that will put Spire’s to shame. I believe they are going with Myrtha as well, although they are including a greater number of pools, including 4 Polo Pools and 2 Diving Pools.

They will be able to Accommodate +/- 7000 Athletes on site, not to mention Private Villas and a variety of Accommodation Facilities for spectators etc. – all on site. There are a number of World class Game Lodges within a 20 mile radius of the Academy that will cater for the overflow. All the food in the form of fresh produce will either be grown on site or within a 10 mile radius. The entire Complex will be electrified via a state of the art renewable energy option – Solar. It’s in the heart of South Africa’s famous wild life region and they plan on using Sport as a tool with which to mobilize the younger generation and educate them as to the importance of our natural Environment. Apparently this will be done in your spare time. I believe the doors will be open to the Public in early 2014.

Considering the calibre of Sportsmen and Women emerging from Southern Africa, they are certainly onto a winner here. I’m told they intend attracting Sportsmen and Women from around the Globe and aim to hold the world’s largest Tournaments in 27 different Sports. Their aim is to invite 200 of the Worlds best School / College Teams in a variety of Sports, throughout the year, to compete in these Tournaments.

I found it all very interesting considering their Results over the past 3 Olympics – they certainly have some potential in the Pool. By the way, where is Kirsty Coventry these days – she was also from southern Africa?


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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