Pop quiz time, boys and girls.
Of all the Division 1 schools in New Jersey (there are eight), which one has the most NCAA team titles?
Time's up! The answer is.....? Yes, Dave?
Correct, Princeton with 24.
Next question. Which one has the second most titles?
Yes, Aaron? Rutgers, you say. Well, that's the right answer, but not to that question. The correct answer is....Fairleigh Dickinson. It has two.
** crickets **
What's that, Scott? I'm crazy? No, I'm not but I am shocked. You see, FDU has won two national titles in bowling, an NCAA sport since 2004. They won the titles in 2006 and 2010 and were runners up in 2012. And guess who has the most bowling titles? Our good friends the, with five.
And that, my friends, should be our next goal. Add bowling as a varsity sport at Rutgers. That and....well, let's hold off on that for right now.
Why not? Bowling is an NCAA sport, and it is sponsored by at least a dozen schools in the New Jersey-New York megalopolis area, including Monmouth, St. Peter's, Sacred Heart, along with LIU and St. Francis in Brooklyn. It adds a women's sport to the docket (five scholarships) and aside from those scholarships and coaching, how much equipment or construction is needed? Construction? Guess where the 2016 NCAA Bowling Championship is being held? Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, NJ, April 14-16. That's a 13 minute trip from Pat Hobbs' office. Sounds like a home site to me.
This is not my idea. It actually came from a college classmate of mine who responded on Facebook to our post about the number of sports we have...or should have. He was pretty frank in his feelings:
Ron Kish Reinstate the 6 slashed sports.Add Men's Hockey,women's Bowling.Equalize the athletic program playing table.Enough of fattening up just three sports and doling out crumbs to all the others.It hasn't worked in two decades as we have been mired in red ink with crap results.Fix it and fix it NOW!
He's right. We've fed football well and almost starved the others. There's little wonder that we've suffered in mediocre results. And it does seem that Pat Hobbs is prepared to do what is right to make athletics successful. Get the scholarship numbers up to the maximum and fund the needs (travel, recruiting, etc) properly. But as Ron writes, let's fix it now.
Jumping the shark
Earlier I mentioned that we should add another sport besides bowling. Ready?
What? you say. Isn't that for California or Florida? Sure....and Nebraska. Tell me where the beach is in Nebraska? Yet the Huskers also have this traditionally ocean-front sport on their resume. And they play it indoors when home.
Why beach volleyball? Well, it adds another women's sport and adds opportunities for female athletes. And it would only add three scholarships to the total count. As explained here:
Sand (beach) volleyball is recognized by NCAA Division I and II schools as an emerging sport for women and is an equivalency sport which means athletic scholarships can be split into partial awards in any proportion up to the maximum allowed. NCAA Division I schools that do not sponsor traditional (indoor) Women's Volleyball are allowed an annual limit of 8 equivalency scholarships for sand volleyball.
Rutgers has "traditional" volleyball, so its number is not eight for the beach, but only three scholarships.
But who plays beach (or sand) volleyball near us? No one. But then, who is close to Lincoln? This season, the Huskers played in a tournament in Hawaii and then played several matches on the road, mostly in California, although they have played at home. Rutgers could play Nebraska and then go south to play Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, Mercer (GA), and a bunch of Florida schools. Nebraska wrapped up its season last Friday.
There are 47 schools that play the sport. Beach volleyball is going to be the NCAA's 90th championship. From the NCAA website:
Plans are in place to put together a six-person sand volleyball committee by late February or early March , which will set parameters for selection, bracketing and seeding for the national collegiate championship.
"We are thrilled to have sand volleyball as the next NCAA championship," said Damani Leech, managing director of NCAA championships and alliances. "The sport is growing rapidly across our membership, as well as at the professional and Olympic levels. We look forward to helping steward the continued growth of this sport and provide deserving student-athletes a tremendous championship experience."
The first NCAA championship in beach volleyball will be this May, hosted by Alabama on a public beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
So, Rutgers could add two sports for women, add perhaps 24 or 25 roster spots, and it would cost between three and eight scholarships. Which, if you're concerned about Title IX, perhaps opens up opportunities to add or restore men's sports (men's swimming is allowed 9.9 scholarships).
I'm still in the market to bring back crew and men's swimming, sooner than later. And I'm becoming a big believer that ice hockey is the next great thing for Rutgers. Neither bowling or beach volleyball are Big Ten sports, which concerns me a little. I want to be competitive and then some in conference sports. But if it gives athletes an opportunity to compete, to wear the Rutgers colors, and to represent the University, then why not bowling and why not beach volleyball?