|NATIONAL TENPINS COACHES ASSOCIATION
With Rod Williamson
NCAA Committee’s Goal: Select Best Teams
Pandemic scheduling complicates this year’s task
It’s tournament time! With the Covid-19 pandemic hopefully in its waning months, this season’s Big Dance seems like a step toward normalcy
after last year’s tournaments were abruptly cancelled.
For NCAA bowling, conference and national championships are a light at the end of a frustrating tunnel. While bowling was classified as “low
risk” in terms of spreading the potentially dangerous coronavirus, the sport’s indoor nature made the season a difficult and at times annoying
slog with a positive Covid test knocking teams out of events at the last minute. Other teams were shut down by their schools.
Among the pandemic’s ramifications has been the restricted travel schedules the sport adopted in order to salvage the season. That meant
that with few exceptions, the east coast teams didn’t play the central schools, making it harder than usual for the NCAA selection committee
charged with assembling the 16-team championship field. There is little to no apples-to-apples comparison and that is apt to lead to some
One man charged with making sense of the unusual season is Glenn White, head coach at Prairie View and chair of the six-person selection
committee. The other members include Loree McCary of Stephen F. Austin, Kayla Jones of Long Island-Brooklyn, Bob Cincotta of Molloy
College, Glen Brittich of Elmhurst and Barbara Jones of Mount Aloysius.
“I would say it’s going to be more difficult than usual because of the differences in the teams that have been able to compete, how much
competition they have engaged in based on regions and a lot of factors,” White says. “We’ll have a lot to look at when we go thru the
selection process. The AQs (automatic qualifying conference champs) take care of themselves but the difference will be the at-large teams.
Our goal is to make sure we do everything to have the most deserving teams and best competition.”
One needs to look no further than the last two NTCA polls to see the fuzzy picture. While there are still some of the traditional powers sitting
atop the rankings, there were also programs being ranked for the first time in their history. Did the voting head coaches really think some
newcomers were among the nation’s best 25 teams or were they attracted to flashy won-loss records with no way to justify otherwise?
These are among the questions White and his committee will grapple with before the March 31 field of 16 is announced. Six conferences
have automatic qualifiers and 10 will be at-large selections. As of mid-March, the committee had not discussed “what-ifs” such as naming an
alternate team to step in should Covid testing sideline one of the field.
“We look at a lot of criteria,” White says. “Won-loss, RPI and schedule to name a few. In a normal year those things tend to play out; the
cream rises to the top. We do not just look at win-loss records. When we do our rankings, and this being a different year from others, there will
be a lot of discussion on how we want to process this year in order to come out with the most deserving teams there. We really haven’t
finalized everything yet.”
White says the committee eventually identifies what it considers the top four teams and places them into different regionals.
“We’ll look at geography but at the same time we want to protect the integrity of the championship. We don’t want No. 1’s rolling against No. 1’
s in regionals. We want each regional to have the proper competition.”
White says the vast majority of committee debates have been civil.
“We’ve had differences of opinion but when we come together we make a committee decision and there is 100% agreement whatever we
come up with. Each member understands their responsibilities. We are to maintain what’s best for the sport, the integrity of the sport, moving
the sport forward in the right direction. We’ve done a really good job during the time I’ve been on the committee accomplishing this. We may
not get everything right 100% and sometimes we have to go back and review but for the most part I’m happy with where things have gone.
We’ve made some rule changes and adjustments with the championship as a whole. We’ve doubled the amount of teams making the
White laughs when asked if he gets lobbied by insiders.
“You may not get that directly but you may get a phone call or email that you can read into things but for the most part I don’t get too much of
that” adding with some caution that this year could be an outlier.
White has enjoyed his time of the committee, already longer than the normal four-year term since he originally filled an open seat.
“It’s been a rewarding experience,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot from different coaches, administrators and NCAA the liaison - how it’s looked at
on the other side. It can get a little nervy when you have a responsibility that things go right for the sport. The decisions you make affect the
future of the sport. It’s challenging but rewarding, especially when you see the end result. It’s not easy to be on the committee and be a coach
at the same time. I’ve enjoyed my time on the committee.”
The NCAA championship will be conducted at the AMF Pro Bowl Lanes in North Kansas City, Mo. The four regional brackets will be decided
April 7-8 with the semi-finals April 9 and the championship match April 10.