The collegiate indoor season is going to go through a major overhaul next season as the NCAA coaches today ended the practice of “last chance” meets to produce NCAA qualifiers.
So no longer will there be DMR madness at Notre Dame, nor will Columbia host a final qualifier at The Armory. And the IC4A and ECAC Championships will no longer be an opportunity to chase a spot in the NCAA field.
For most teams, it means that the conference championship will be the final weekend to get a mark for Nationals. And there are programs where the conference title means less than trying to run for national attention. I suspect that some such meets will be diminished as athletes focus on personal interest rather than team interest.
But my hope is that what really happened is that the coaches made the NCAAs less relevant as the chase for times will give way to the chase for victory, which once was the purpose of the sport. If NCAA berths are wrapped up by Sunday night of Heps, why not let the IC4A and ECAC Championships actually mean something. Instead of jetting off to Notre Dame, Iowa State of Washington, why not take a team to an Eastern Championship to conclude the season in competition?
It is certainly an unintended consequence, but the coaches might have given the IC4As relevancy again.
UPDATE: Mustafa Abdur-Rahim posted a response on Twitter suggesting that this decision will do just the opposite, it will instead kill the IC4A and ECAC Championships. While I understand that take, I looked up the actual data from this year and of the 528 spots at NCAAs just 46 (8.7 percent) went to athletes or teams from the Northeast (stretching south of D.C. and west to Ohio). Given that, the chase hasn’t produced much for the Northeast. My question remains: Why not end the season with meaningful competition instead of a rabbited time chase?