Collegiate Water Polo Association Women's Varsity Division I/II Programs Get New Format & Championship

BRIDGEPORT, Pa. – The Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Women’s Varsity Division I/II institutions will restructure their divisions and championship format for the 2012-13 seasons in the wake of last week’s meetings and conference calls with the 13 institutions’ athletic administrators and head coaches.

Divisions/Regular Season Schedule

The paramount issue of the meeting on Monday, June 20 in the Devon Room of the Connelly Center on the campus of Villanova University was the restructuring of the league’s Division I/II women’s varsity membership into divisions that reflect the philosophical differences between institutions that wished to abide by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules alone, and those that felt a need for more stringent requirements.

Per CWPA league bylaws that state each dues paying member present at a meeting or conference call may vote to decide the conference’s policy, the teams by an 11-2 voted for “The creation of a two division format with one division meeting only the restrictions set forth under NCAA rules (herein noted as “unrestricted”), with the other division (herein noted as “restricted”) abiding based on restrictions more limiting than the requirements set forth by the NCAA rules including:

  • A regular season competitive start date of February 1
  • An initial practice start date of January 15
  • An overall contest limit of 20 dates (including the non-traditional season)
  • During the non-traditional season, teams are banned from any and all overnight travel
  • During the non-traditional season, teams are limited to a maximum of 15 practices during which any and/or all coaches are present on the pool deck.  (Clarification of his restriction includes all conditioning practices (i.e., swim sessions) or practices that feature water polo fundamentals during which a coach is present).

In addition, the teams decided to weight the regular season division races with the champions from both the “restricted” and “unrestricted” divisions being seeded as either No. 1 or No. 2 for the Eastern Championship and holding first round byes in the championship bracket.  The determination of the No. 1 seed between the two division champions will be done by a seeding committee.  The seeding committee will seed the remaining teams at No. 3-13 (or 3-through the maximum number of Division I/II programs in the league) in a head-to-head comparison of the remaining teams.”

The new divisions will feature familiar rivals and new matchups as six teams elected to go into the division with additional restrictions (“Southern Division”) and seven into the “unrestricted” division (“Western Division”).

Some familiar names dot the roster of the seven team Western Division with the University of Michigan Wolverines, Indiana University Hoosiers, Hartwick College Hawks and Gannon University Knights returning to the division.  The University of Maryland Terrapins move over from the Southern Division, with the Salem International University Fighting Tigers rejoining the league following a break from competition, while the Notre Dame College Falcons, located near Cleveland, Ohio, come into the league for their first season of competition.

The Western Division teams will compete in a seven-team regular season single round-robin format with the division regular season results establishing the seeding for a division championship tournament.

Western Division

  • Gannon University
  • Hartwick College
  • Indiana University
  • Notre Dame College (Ohio)
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • Salem International University

Former Southern Division members Brown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, and Princeton University form the core of the new incarnation of the division with first-time restrictions that mirror sport restrictions from the Ivy League.  The Bucknell University Bison and Mercyhurst College Lakers join the Bears, Colonials, Crimson and Tigers, respectively, as the teams will have a later start date, restrictions on the non-traditional season and competition dates.

The Southern Division teams will compete in a six-team regular season single round-robin format with the division regular season results establishing the seeding for a division championship tournament.

Southern Division

  • Brown University
  • Bucknell University
  • George Washington University
  • Harvard University
  • Mercyhurst College
  • Princeton University

Both divisions will have a unique format in their regular season schedules as the Western Division (unrestricted) teams elected to schedule their own games, while the Southern Division (restricted) requested the league office to compile their schedule.  Due to the need to know the league schedule in advance, the Western Division teams must submit their schedules for the next two seasons (2012, 2013) by August 1, 2011. If a Western Division team fails to submit its schedule prior to the due date, the league office is empowered to complete the division schedule.

The teams also voted to allow league games during the regular season in both divisions to be contested at a neutral site by mutual consent of both institutions.  For example, Michigan and Indiana could hypothetically play their Western Division game while in California, while Brown and Princeton could meet in their Southern Division game at Bucknell.

Division Championship Postseason/Eastern Championship

The regular season is not the only schedule changing as the 13-team Eastern Championship will also undergo reformatting with the member institution’s agreeing to rotate the site between the two divisions.

Per the league’s membership request, the Eastern Championship will include all 13-teams with the No. 12 and 13 seeds facing off in a play-in game to use a 12-team format.  However, the 13-seed will play through the field as the championship will feature games to decide all places.

The site of the Eastern Championship will rotate between the Western and Southern Divisions with Brown (Southern) hosting the 2012 tournament.  Due to Indiana and Maryland hosting the championship most recently among the Western Division teams with viable facilities, Michigan will serve as the site of the 2013 tournament.

With Brown and Michigan hosting the Eastern Championship in 2012 and 2013, the sites of the division championship tournaments were selected by the league membership to cut-down on travel costs due to geography and not have one site serve as both a division and Eastern Championship site in the same academic year:

  • Western Division Championship Sites (2012 – Indiana; 2013 – Maryland)
  • Southern Division Championship Sites (2012 – Bucknell; 2013 - Harvard)

The complete minutes of the league meeting and following conference call to finalize the details of the realignment are available by clicking here.


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