Q&A with committee chairman Shayka on changes to NCAA Tournament

Proposed changes to the college men’s volleyball postseason were on the table during the recent NCAA annual summer meetings.

NCAA men’s volleyball committee chairman Ron Shayka said in an interview with Off the Block that the committee made several recommendations at the meeting to improve future NCAA Tournaments and the selection process.

Check out the complete interview as Shayka discusses making the NCAA Tournament selection process more transparent, potential rule changes and expanding the NCAA Tournament to eight teams.

Off the Block: You wrapped your annual meetings at Indianapolis. What was tone of this year’s meetings?

Ron Shayka: I think this year took on a little different meaning. It was more about how volleyball fits into the NCAA big picture and some of the changes that are occurring on the macro level that may effect men’s volleyball. That was one of the things we had to keep in mind when taking about this year’s championship and the expanded field and how we are going to move forward. There was a sense that we have to keep the big picture in mind, and that was what’s going to happen at the NCAA level with overall governance.

OTB: Talking about the macro and governess, what were some of the big issues brought up in the meetings?


RS: It wasn’t necessary big issues. It was focused on the play-in structure and how that worked out for the first year and how that would look like going forward. We are very pleased with how we pulled it off this year going through it for the first time. There were bumps along the way. But, we felt like with a very short turnaround time we were able to get teams out of their conference championships, get them to the national championship site, have them in the first-round play-in games and then have the semifinals and finals. Overall we were very pleased with how that worked out. But, we wanted to look at it and see how we do it better or what does the future of that look like.

OTB: With the play-in matches in 2015, are you looking at playing them at Stanford because Stanford will be playing host to the NCAA Tournament or will the higher seed get to host those play-in matches?

RS: That was one of the main items of discussion as far as the overall picture for the championship. We had to try to identify our priorities. One of the top priorities was trying to maintain the play-in games at the championship site. That was our final recommendation, which will have to be approved. But we came out of the meeting saying that it was the best. If it’s not a finical hardship to bring all the teams to one site than that’s what we recommend doing.

OTB: Going to into this meeting, a lot conferences had decided to move their conference tournament championships up from a Saturday to a Friday to give more time before the start of the NCAA Tournament. Do you feel that is going to be beneficial to the game as a whole?

RS: That is one of the small things that we are looking at doing for next year, just moving them up a day. It will give those teams advancing to take a little more time to prepare for logistics and be a little better as preparation goes for the first play-in game on Tuesday. I think that is going beneficial. I think in the future we are going to have to take a look at that overall schedule and see what makes sense.”

OTB: Talking about the NCAA Tournament, there was a lot of discussion this year about the at-large bid selection process and the criteria used. Did the committee decide to make any tweaks to the selection process?

RS: That was an item of discussion. What came out of it was a desire to get the information that is available to the committee and make it out there for public consumption. I believe that is going to happen next year. All of this statistical analysis will be available so everyone can see it. It will easy for people say, well jeez this is what the committee is looking at because it’s available to the general public. That’s one of recommendations for next year moving forward as well, and there is a likelihood that they will make that retroactive so it will be available from previous years.

OTB: Do you like the process being more transparent and having people see the numbers that you are seeing?

RS: Sure. That would make it a lot easier for us. The other thing it does is reinforces what it says all along, which is the more there is inter-conference play, the better it will be for that statistical analysis. Just to have more cross-comparison to look at. As we move forward it will make those numbers even more valid.

OTB: Stepping away from the NCAA Tournament, every year there are always some discussion of minor rule changes. Were there any of those discussions this year, even if it was something as simple as jersey regulations?

RS: We are very fortunate this year. Starting at the USA Volleyball level there was little desire to change the game for the next year. So with that happening at the USA Volleyball level, the NCAA men tried very hard to stay as close to the international game as possible. We use the USA Volleyball DCR book, which is domestic competition regulations. They aren’t allowed to call it a rule book, so it’s called a DCR. We play by that, and since there were no major changes to that moving forward there should not be any changes going forward to the men’s game next year.

OTB: From your standpoint, you talked about the change in governance and the big picture. What do you think the odds are moving forward, not in 2015 but in 2016 or 2017, that men’s volleyball fans will be able to see the NCAA Tournament field expand even more to eight teams?

RS: I would say that I’m very cautiously optimistic about something like that. That’s the best case scenario. The reason I say that is because the NCAA has a number of challenges ahead of them. One of the big ones that they are facing is that travel costs are skyrocketing and that is something they are very aware of. They are taking that into consideration as they look at overall budgets and championship budgets. … They are looking at those types of considerations across the board before they are going to make any kind of recommendation or approval for field expansion. Right now, I think until those numbers come in it’s probably a little too early to make a prediction as far as field expansion.