An arcane NCAA rule has tripped up two ACC soccer teams this season, and one of the stumbles could have been even more serious.
Virginia men’s coach George Gelnovatch found out last week that fifth-year senior midfielder and tri-captain Ari Dimas would not be eligible for the remainder of the season. Dimas had played in two exhibition matches and four regular-season games this fall. One of the regular-season games was a 1-0 victory over Duke.
Dimas, a graduate student in commerce, was believed to have a year of eligibility remaining because he had played varsity soccer only three years after walking on as a sophomore. However, he had played for the Virginia men’s club team as a freshman in 2008, and an NCAA rule adopted in June 2009 counted club play against varsity eligibility if the school also fields a varsity team in that sport. The violation was discovered two weeks ago. Virginia self-reported it to the NCAA and held Dimas out of subsequent games.
The same rule cost Duke coach John Kerr the services of midfielder Chris Tweed-Kent this season. Tweed-Kent, who was Duke’s third-leading goal scorer last year and twice led the ACC in assists, similarly had not been recruited at Duke. But tried out in the spring of his freshman year and made the team as a walk-on – as did his twin brother Daniel. Kerr said Duke caught the oversight in late spring this year and made two appeals to the NCAA for a waiver, but both were ultimately turned down just before preseason practice began.
Kerr was very pointed in his criticism of the rule.
“How can you equate playing for a club team with Division I intercollegiate varsity?” he said. “It’s absurd.”
Gelnovatch said the Virginia coaches didn’t realize Dimas had played for the club team. They only knew he was a practice player for the women’s team in fall 2008. Because Dimas’ time practicing against the women’s team came prior to his membership with the club team, his NCAA compliance paperwork did not list his club participation.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, the NCAA did not mandate that they forfeit any matches in which Dimas participated. However, the school was fined $3,000 by the NCAA for the violation. Dimas is serving as a volunteer assistant coach for the remainder of the season.
“I feel bad for these kids because these are good kids and they didn’t do anything wrong,” Kerr said, noting the retroactive nature of the bylaw. He said that if a college coach wanted the services of non-recruited players, it would be simpler to have them practice with the team and just hold them out of games.
U-17 update: The U.S. U-17 women’s team, featuring North Carolina freshman Summer Green, began play last Saturday in the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan, tying France 0-0. The U.S. was fortunate to get out with a tie.
France outshot the U.S. 23-3 overall, 12-1 in shots on goal, but U.S. goalkeeper Jane Campbell came up big with 12 saves. Green, who had scored 21 goals in 17 appearances with the team, was whistled for being offside four times against France’s trapping defense. On the fourth occasion, in the 86th minute, she continued to play after the whistle and kicked the ball into the goal. The action earned her a yellow card.
Green rebounded Tuesday, netting a hat trick to lead the U.S. to a 6-0 victory over Gambia, which is now 0-2 after an 11-0 defeat to North Korea last Saturday.
North Korea tied France 1-1 Tuesday, and, like the U.S., has four points so far in group play. North Korea holds the lead in Group B with a plus-11 goal differential. The U.S. is at plus-six. The two teams play Saturday.
After two games and two ties, Frances goal differential remains even, with a game against Gambia remaining. The only guaranteed way for the U.S. to clinch a berth in the quarterfinals is to win. The U.S. game can be seen online at 7:48 a.m. via ESPN3.
Three players from CASL’s Chelsea Ladies team: Joanna Boyles, Morgan Reid and Claire Wagner are also on the U.S. team.
U-20 update: Area college teams have had to deal with players called in for practices and tournaments for various U.S. women’s teams. But the U.S. men’s team, which is preparing for next year’s U-20 World Cup, could also deprive an area school of several players for a spell next month.
UNC could be without defenders Jordan McCrary and Boyd Okwuonu, and midfielders Danny Garcia and Mikey Lopez while the U.S. team holds a weeklong practice next month. A UNC spokesman said the dates haven’t been confirmed yet.
The team is coached by Tab Ramos, the former N.C. State All-American and U.S. international star.
Looking ahead: The area women’s teams get a double dose of ACC play Thursday and Sunday. UNC (5-2-2, 1-1-1 ACC) hosts No. 1-ranked Florida State (9-0, 2-0) and Miami (5-4-1, 0-2). N.C. State (5-6, 0-2) gets visits from Miami and Florida State, and Duke (7-2-1, 1-1-1) hosts Clemson (5-4-2, 0-3) and travels to Virginia (9-1-1, 2-0-1).
Two key ACC men’s matches are on tap Friday when Duke hosts UNC and N.C. State visits Boston College.