WPI Relay Out Of Division III NCAAs When Backstroker Unable To Attend

While the big story in Division III has been the late removal of Amherst’s team from NCAA psych sheets as a punishment for drinking on the team bus home from their conference meet, astute followers of Division III swimming noticed another absence: Worcester Polytechnic Institute or WPI.

WPI sits 13th in the national ranks in the 200 medley relay at 1:30.25, and would have been invited as the 12th team into NCAAs with the removal of Amherst. But WPI does not appear in the psych sheets, nor does backstroker Jack Bauer, who would have been tied for the third seed in the 100 back and would have held the sixth seed in the 200 back.

We spoke to coach Paul Bennett, who said that Bauer couldn’t attend the meet due to an academic conflict (Bauer is in Australia for this academic quarter), and that his absence caused the relay to be bumped from NCAA invite status.

Bennett says the NCAA’s rule interpretation is that schools don’t “own” relay times – the four athletes who achieved the time do. So though WPI had gone a time that would have been invited, because they put up the time with Bauer leading off, the time is no longer NCAA invite eligible when Bauer is not attending the meet. Bennett says the NCAA sent out a memo in early February with that interpretation, but that the policy came as a surprise to him and other coaches he’d talked with.

The NCAA Pre-Championships Manuel for Division III doesn’t address this directly, but does lay the groundwork for the interpretation. Schools are required to include the names of the swimmers who achieved each relay entry time. The memo itself, sent out on February 9th, explains the rule interpretation as follows:

If a student-athlete on the fastest relay is unable to attend the championship meet, then that time will not be valid, and the fastest relay time achieved with all currently eligible student-athletes must be submitted.

“It’s really kind of disappointing to us,” said Bennett.

WPI has no other qualifiers and won’t be competing at the meet. The other three relay members would have been able to compete in their B cut events had the relay qualified, but without individual invites of their own, they are on the outside. WPI finished 16th last year and were sixth in the 200 medley relay. Bauer was seventh in the 100 back a year ago.

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Hint of Lime
2 years ago

Curious — sounds like Bauer is studying abroad this semester, so he made the choice/decision to go abroad either before or despite knowing of his and his team’s qualifications for the meet? I know that student-athletes juggle both titles, but seems like an interesting choice to go abroad during the quarter/semester of championship season.

Reply to  Hint of Lime
2 years ago

I belive wpi does trimesters and they just finished their 2nd trimester, so he would be studying abroad for the last 1/3 of the year.

Reply Guy
Reply to  Swimmy
2 years ago

WPI alumni here, the school is actually on the quarter system so each term is half a semester. Seems to me like Bauer is either on IQP or MQP which means that he is away for the winter term

Steve Nolan
2 years ago

Couldn’t he come back, just for the day of the meet?

He’d barely have to be here for…



Lazy 8s
Reply to  Steve Nolan
2 years ago

I was hoping for this! Thanks!

DIIIer (Polar Bear elsewhere)
2 years ago

This is a different interpretation than in the past — A number of times Schuyler Beeman of Midd declined to attend the national meet due to an academic conflict and their relay teams still went. Anyone know the genesis of the change? This actually seems fairer — assuming that the slot is filled.

Hoping that the Amherst situation will result in a slight adjustment to the rules whereby if a relay drops out another one is added.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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