In August of 2016, the Division I Men’s college coaches of the NSCAA (now the United Soccer Coaches) launched an information campaign to educate everyone on the benefits of moving the college soccer season from a one-semester sport (August to December) to a two-semester sport (August to June) or the Academic Year Season Model.
Maryland head coach and Division I men’s chair of the United Soccer Coaches Sasho Cirovski presented the information in a short video. Cirovski, one of the most charismatic and loquacious people in college soccer, has been the face and voice of moving college soccer forward into a longer season since the beginning.
While he does not try to take credit for his involvement, this movement might be buried in the ground without Cirvoski’s clout (he is one of the most successful college soccer coaches over the past two decades) and enthusiasm for the sport.
With his Maryland side playing their best soccer of the season, Cirovski and his team are in Santa Barbara this week to compete in the 2018 College Cup - the Final Four for college soccer. During Thursday’s pre-College Cup press conference, I asked Cirovski about the progress on the move to a two-semester schedule. His full quote is below as he gave an impassioned plea as to why this is best for the student-athlete experience, a key upcoming date, and why everyone is on board with the change.
“It’s a process that’s ongoing. What has been amazing is the support from my colleagues - the coaches across the country. We are working hard. We are doing a lot of work in the background. We are being respectful of the process and the time that it takes to move something like this along. We are very hopeful that this February that a couple of the major conferences, including the Big Ten and ACC, will put this into the formal legislation cycle for a vote in January of 2020. If they do that, we have a real shot at passing this.
“It is the right thing to do. This is a game that must be played over two semesters. We must get to a point where we show proper respect for the student-athlete experience: the proper periodization necessary, the proper rest and recovery, the proper balance of academic and social experiences. It just makes so much sense that I believe the leaders, the administrators will see through and do what is right for the student-athletes. I see positives happening in the very near future.”
Cirovski was also asked if he was encouraged by U.S. Soccer’s involvement in the spring games in 2018.
“I think all of the segments in the soccer pyramid support this: from MLS to all the various youth leagues. Everyone involved in soccer knows that this the right thing to do. I think we have overwhelming support.
“We have been careful to not make this about the very elite players - the 1% who have aspirations of playing at the highest level of professional soccer. In our surveys, we have 80% of the student-athletes so out of the 5,500 student-athletes, we have 4,700 who think this is a good model for everybody.
“We have been careful to not sell this as player development. This is the student-athlete experience. This is the right way to showcase and play this great sport. I think slowly people are starting to understand that what was good in 1959 is not good in 2019.
“I think we have to look at this across other sports as well. I think institutions take a long time to change. Just like in coaching, you have to find the balance between being urgent in wanting success and change, but being patient and understanding the process. We, as Division I coaches, understand that. We are patient, but we are pushing hard.”