Big East athletic directors deny golf coaches’ request to play in the fall


Courtesy of DePaul Athletics

DePaul golfer Charlie Spencer-White.

The Big East men’s golf coaches sent a letter to the conference’s athletic directors earlier this week requesting them to consider two scenarios for a potential fall season, according to a document obtained by The DePaulia. 

Their request was denied by the Big East’s athletic directors, according to a Big East spokesperson. 

Some winter sports (e.g. swimming and diving) and spring sports (golf, baseball, softball, etc.) that conduct competition in the fall had questions about how the recent decision to delay the start of our fall season by eliminating non-conference competition affected their sport,” a conference spokesperson told The DePaulia. “The athletic directors made the decision that the current focus is on the specified fall sports.”

Last week, the Big East announced  a conference-only schedule for the fall season, which did not include golf. Collegiate golf is usually played in both the fall and spring, with a championship held in the spring. 

But golf coaches wanted the conference to consider allowing them to play in the fall so they don’t lose potential ranking points that would hurt them at the national level. 

“While our championship is contested in the spring, golf is the only collegiate sport where both the fall and spring are equally weighted and count towards our final ranking,” the letter read. “With Big East schools located in northern climates, for us to have an equitable chance to be competitive at a national level, it’s imperative we compete in the fall. The weather in the spring doesn’t allow many of us to play an event within a drivable distance, until April. Not only would we face a competitive disadvantage, we would significantly increase travel costs in the spring, by purchasing flights for additional tournaments. We are able to drive to each of our fall tournaments.”

The first scenario that the coaches provided to the conference was to split the Big East into two divisions: East and West. The East division would consist of UConn, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown; while the West division would feature DePaul, Butler, Marquette, Xavier and Creighton. 

The Big East used a similar structure for field hockey, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer for the upcoming fall season. 

In the first scenario, there would be four tournaments spanning from September to October. Each tournament would be hosted by a Big East school in their respective divisions, and only schools from the two divisions would be able to participate. 

The first scenario includes a two-week break between tournaments to allow for necessary testing to make sure a student-athlete wouldn’t have to miss multiple events. 

The second scenario, however, would give each Big East school the option to decide if they want to participate in fall tournaments. This option would have given each school the freedom to build their own schedule that abides by conference and university policies. 

Out of all the fall sports that the Big East participates in, golf lends itself as the best sport for social distancing and limiting contact between players. The PGA Tour returned to competition in June and has been able to play every event since to completion. 

The coaches argued this point in their letter to the athletic directors.

“We understand the role equity plays in making conference wide decisions, but we would like for you to consider how our sport is different,” the letter reads. “As you may know, the PGA Tour returned to competition June 11 and they have proven golf can thrive in this environment, if proper safety measures are taken. Golf naturally lends itself to social distancing and if necessary, we could add another preventive layer by having each team paired only with their teammates.”

DePaul athletics did not immediately return an email about The DePaulia’s request for a statement from golf head coach Marty Schiene.

A source did share with The DePaulia an email exchange from Schiene and DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto from July 20, which included the golf coaches’ proposal. Lenti Ponsetto told Schiene the athletic directors would discuss the proposal during a meeting on July 20.