KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 8, 2021)United Soccer Coaches today sent an urgent request to NCAA Executive Director Dr. Mark Emmert to change the NCAA DIII Men and Women’s championship format to add a rest day between the semifinals and finals. The association offered to pay the $20,000 estimated expense to make the change for this year.In a letter from United Soccer Coaches CEO Lynn Berling-Manuel, she spotlighted the health and safety of the athletes as well as the compromised championship experience. The change would add an additional day to the championship set to take place on consecutive days December 3-4. It is the only NCAA soccer championship that is decided by games on back-to-back days.“Our job as a coaches association is to advocate for our members,” said Berling-Manuel. “The safety of their players is one of those critical issues. This is a small step for the NCAA that would make a big impact on the DIII soccer championship experience for players and coaches.”The turnaround for DIII championship games can be less than 18 hours, going against NCAA sport science recommendations for minimum rest and recovery.The full letter can be viewed here and several prominent NCAA coaches have also demonstrated their support for this important change to student-athlete equity and player safety. Anson Dorrance – UNC Women’s Soccer Head Coach:“Why anyone thinks that Division III Championships should be less concerned for the health of their athletes is beyond me. Soccer is a taxing contact sport and everyone knows the risks you take while playing it. There are even discussions right now at a Division I level where we take two days off between games in the championship segment, so Division III to stay with matches back to back is a ridiculous physical risk.” Justin Serpone – Head Men’s Soccer Coach, Amherst College (Former NCAA DIII Men’s Soccer Committee, National Chair):“The idea of having appropriate rest during the Final Four weekend is something that our coaches’ groups have been talking about for years.  DIII student-athletes deserve an incredible championship experience. It’s just hard to do that when you’re playing the most important game of your life, less than twenty hours after finishing the second most important game of your life.”Aliceann Wilbur – Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Hobart and William Smith College – (Former NCAA DIII Women’s Soccer Committee, National Chair):Having served as the Chair of the NCAA DIII Women’s Soccer National Committee, I have a ton of respect for the scope of NCAA governance. However, I have become increasingly frustrated and disillusioned by the disconnect between the NCAA mission and the “health and well-being” as experienced by the student-athletes in NCAA DIII championship play. The Final Four DIII soccer experience does not align with what is abundantly and consistently a clear directive of the NCAA Sports Science review that identifies the importance of rest and recovery between matches.  The current format the NCAA DIII soccer championship mandates back-to-back competition at the Final Four and throughout the entirety of its championship. Why?? Managing costs is apparently more important than providing a quality student athlete experience, especially as compared to what DI and DII athletes experience.Our program has made the run to “Final Four” on several occasions and I speak for many coaches who have earned their trip to this targeted weekend. For our student-athletes and staffs, it’s supposed to be a “once in a lifetime”, memorable experience having reached that pinnacle of achievement. The reality is this experience is anything but memorable. Our schedule is packed from the time of arrival and combined with a condensed turnaround time from the semi-final to final, leaves limited time to plan, prepare and recover sufficiently.  When speaking to former student athletes who participated in that “once in a lifetime” experience, their memories, focused on the struggles with the format, and are largely negative. Any parameters of an experience focused on the “health and well-being “ of its participants are noticeably gone missing.Dr. Jay Martin – Head Coach, Ohio Wesleyan and all-time NCAA men’s  soccer wins leader, former DIII Soccer Championships Committee:“I have always wondered what is the difference between DI and DIII soccer players? They play the same game. They are the same age. They both have academic commitments. But the NCAA seems to care about the health and wellbeing of DI players and not DIII players. Research is very clear. Twenty-four hours is not enough recovery time to play another soccer game. Today, even 24 hours is being questioned. Why the big difference?”The current format for the scheduled tournament includes the following key components:

  • NCAA DIII M & W Soccer Championships – Dec. 3-4 
  • Dec. 3rd – 4 semi-finals (2 Men – 2 Women @ 12pm, 230pm, 5pm, 730pm
  • OT games mean last game finishes around 11pm
  • Turnaround for championship game <18 hour
  • Turnaround times from semis to final goes against the NCAA sport science recommendations (as usually less than 16-18 hours)