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Jerry's World

Coaches shocked by the NCAA’s decision not to expand men’s tournament.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Friday, September 17, 1999) -- The NCAA men's soccer tournament will continue to be second- fiddle to the women, at least in number of Division 1 participants, for a second straight year.

A proposal for expansion from 32 teams to 48 teams, approved at lower committee levels, was denied by the NCAA Board of Directors, which cited financial reasons.

The action stunned many in the soccer community. Indiana coach Jerry Yeagley, asked to sum up his reaction, said: "Surprise, disappointment, more like shock. Everybody was already planning on it. It was a done deal . . . We were shocked and couldn't believe (tournament expansion) didn't go through because we thought all the hurdles had been taken care of."

The women last year went from 32 teams to 48 teams.

The men's field is evenly divided between automatic bids - 11 conference winners along with five others determined by play-ins among smaller league champions - and at-large teams.

A huge controversy erupted two years ago with the omission of Duke, which most observers believed merited a bid.

With the growing parity in men's college soccer, strength developing throughout the nation and unpredictability resulting from the decision of some stars to leave after a year or two for professional ranks, coaches feel expansion to 48 is needed to take care of deserving teams.

NCAA senior associate director of championships Tom Jacobs said it was "disappointing" not to have the measure passed, but stressed that "it is not a dead issue . . . We're hopeful of (reconsideration and passage of the expansion) next year."

"It was hard to understand and hopefully there is a reasonable explanation that this will be a one-year, temporary block and we could get it passed next year,'' Yeagley said. "There is nothing we can do about it this year. But believe me. We're doing everything we can to get it done next year."

Soccer America weekly magazine reported the board of directors decided instead to expand the playoff fields in field hockey, golf and fencing and to improve pay for baseball, softball and women's basketball officials.

SoccerTimes managing editor Gary Davidson also contributed this story.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

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