College golf has already suffered the disappointment of losing the 2020 championship season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But could the long-term health of the sport be in jeopardy as well?
Leaders at the Golf Coaches Association of America and the Women’s Golf Coaches Association are fearful after commissioners from the Group of Five conferences and 22 other Division I conferences wrote NCAA president Mark Emmert earlier this week asking for help in dealing with the financial fallout from the coronavirus. Their letter requested an emergency legislative relief waiver to allow schools to temporarily reduce the minimum number of sports they offered to maintain their status in Division I for up to four years.
The NCAA Division I Council is meeting this week via video conference. It is unclear whether the waiver would be acted on at that time.
Should the waiver pass, this would provide schools the opportunity to reduce or potentially drop entirely Olympic and non-revenue producing sports, including golf, as they grapple with budget issues in the wake of the coronavirus.
Gregg Grost and Roger Yaffe, executive directors of the GCAA and WGCA respectively, joined leaders of coaching associations in more than a dozen sports, in writing a letter of their own to speak out against the waiver request.
“The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic places a lasting burden on both higher education and intercollegiate athletics alike,” reads the coaches’ associations letter to Emmert, “but slashing opportunities for students is not the solution.”
In an email sent to golf coaches, a copy of which was obtained by Golf Digest, Grost noted: “If this waiver passes, it would mean the potential for fewer teams, fewer scholarships and fewer opportunities for student athletes competing in Olympic and non-revenue producing sports. The GCAA strongly opposes this drastic measure and has signed off on a letter with other coaches associations that was sent to NCAA President Mark Emmert today.”