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COSIDA MEDIA CONFERENCE: TALKING NCAA STATISTICS


May 3, 2012


Bonnie Johnson

Eric McDowell

Jim Wright


ERIC McDOWELL:  Hello, everyone, this is Eric McDowell, CoSIDA's vice president for the 2012 academic year, and Assistant AD for sports information at Union College here in upstate New York.  Thank you, as always, for joining us with this series.  We've had a wonderful time with it, and informative, excellent topics coming up from our panelists throughout the year.
At the end of this, we'll give the remaining schedule as we lead you up to the CoSIDA convention in June.  Today, we'll be talking about NCAA statistics.  No better people to talk to than the sources.  We welcome Jim Wright, Bonnie Johnson, and Sean Straziscar from Indianapolis, from the NCAA's Statistics Department. 
Jim, Bonnie, Sean, thank you so much for taking the time today to join us. 
We're going to get right to things, and give our panelists a chance to talk to all our members about certain things they'd like them to be aware of, the latest happenings at the NCAA Statistics Department.  So we'll start off with our good friend, Jim Wright.  Jim? 
JIM WRIGHT:  All right.  Thanks, Eric.  We didn't want to take too much time with some of the preliminaries.  We want to make sure that folks who have questions or concerns have time to do that.  But we thought we might hit on a couple of the highlights that we think we've accomplished this year, a couple of the things that we're thinking about for next year, certainly always with the input of the SIDs. 
As I start with the Division I first, we have starting about four years ago, we started moving to what we call the Single‑Game Reporting system.¬† For those veteran SIDs that have been around for many years, we ask the conferences to send us electronic files, XMLs, that would give us the cumulative total for everybody in this their conference.¬†
That worked fine for a number of years, but it did kind of limit restrict the kind of numbers, and the kind of cool stats that we could produce.¬† So starting about four years ago, we gradually made that transition from the conference reporting of cumulative totals to single‑game reporting where each home team is responsible for updating his or her own stats.¬†
This spring, with the addition of Division I baseball and softball, that does literally complete the Division I transition.  Now, all of our Division I sports capture their stats using this single game format. 
To be honest, we were a little concerned going into the spring about how baseball and softball would work.  Partly because just the sheer volume of games we thought would make the task a little daunting, both for the SIDs and for our staff. 
But I'm very pleased and happy to report that as we get May and get into selection time for baseball and softball, we could not be more pleased with the support and the cooperation that we have gotten from the Division I community and specifically the baseball and softball SIDs. 
As numbers guys, I have to throw numbers at you here.  As of today we have already captured over 6500 baseball box scores in Division I.  Probably by tomorrow morning, we'll have captured over 7,000 Division I softball box scores.  That ability to capture those single games gives us literally unprecedented numbers that we can crunch, that we can make available to the country. 
Of course, a lot of people have ways of getting Division I football stats or Division I men's basketball stats, but in terms of the other sports and Divisions II and III, those really only exist within the NCAA statistics area.  And we couldn't be more thankful for the cooperation that we've gotten from the Division I baseball and softball SIDs this year. 
We've added a lot of extra categories that we have never done before, had this single game system not existed.¬† So more to come on that.¬† We think this is only going to get better, and I think SIDs around the country and across all sports in all divisions get a little more use to this Single‑Game Reporting.¬†
We clearly, and it is our goal to get statistics in all sports in all divisions in to a daily situation, where every day you can come into the NCAA site and have updated statistics of any of your sports.  Obviously, that's going to depend on the cooperation of the SIDs, but we think it's only going to be a matter of another year or two before everyone gets used to the idea that your game ends at home and in addition to updating your website, making sure your conference and your opponent gets the data, and the NCAA stats people get the data as well, that's going to give us a chance to do these daily stats as we projected a couple of years ago. 
Let me move quickly to Division II and Division III, and specifically something that I know is near and dear to the hearts of almost every two and three SID which is score reporting.  It has been a pain for everybody for a number of years. 
Starting a few years ago, some SIDs asked the question, if we're providing stats to the stats folks at the NCAA, why do we have to go into a score reporting system and update those same scores into their program?  Well, we've started working toward resolving that issue, and so beginning this year, back last fall, our statistics staff has assumed the responsibility for a total of 23 Division II and 3 championship score reporting sports.  11 in Division II, 12 in Division III. 
The good news for everybody is that, first of all, has relieved Division II and 3 SIDs of that responsibility of going into that score reporting site and entering their results each week.¬† We now take care of that, again, through either the Single‑Game Reporting, or the conference reporting for sports like volleyball, baseball, and softball in Divisions II and III.¬†
We have also heard from the sports committees, and the regional advisory committees that this has also freed up their time.  Because previous to this year, they'd have to go in and clean up, if you will, any of the discrepancies that may have popped up after an SID entered in results.  But because we are now going through and essentially validating and vetting those ahead of time, that has also eliminated the need for the committee and the racks to do that as well. 
Another gee whiz number for you, we figured this out a couple days ago, since the fall season began and in those 23 sports through and including this spring's baseball, softball, men's and women's lacrosse, men's volleyball, our staff has now validated a little over 76 thousands scores. 
We've been very pleased with how it works.  We still have our own staff working on the best way to handle that volume.  But we think we've done a pretty good job so far, and we hope that both SIDs and committee members are happy with what we've been able to do and make life easier for everybody. 
Let me quickly turn to a couple of things we're thinking about for next year.  And I'll say in advance that these are things that we expect to talk with SIDs at the CoSIDA convention in St. Louis at the end of next month.  We'd certainly encourage any of you listening today to have thoughts or ideas to let us know by phone call or email.  But there are a couple of things that we've thought about that we think can improve the way we do statistics and the way SIDs can use those statistics to their advantage. 
So let me first talk about Division II and 3 football.¬† Most of you know who are in those sports in Divisions II and III, we have been doing Single‑Game Reporting for those sports for, I believe, something like four years.¬†
We've started hearing from a number of folks that this is really cool, guys, that you're doing these single‑game reports, but the stats aren't coming out until Monday.¬† Most of us are writing our weekly game notes Monday morning.¬†
So is there a way that you could put out Division II and Division III football stats over the weekend like you did in Division I?  The quick answer to that is absolutely. 
The program is set up so that we can produce those stats at any time during the weekend.  So what our staff has talked about, we're not sure that Division II or 3 is quite ready to go to the immediate turn around that Division I currently does in football, which means essentially within minutes of the end of your Division I football game you're required to send us the XML of those stats.  By 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning we have the updated Division I football stats. 
We think in Divisions II and III, the next logical, gradual step to Saturday would be Sunday.  So our question that we're going to put to the Division II and Division III football community is for the 2012 football season, would you be willing to commit to the idea of submitting your XMLs to us early on Sunday afternoon rather than the current deadline of, I believe, something like noon or 2:00 o'clock on a Monday?  And if we get a sufficient amount of support, we are willing and ready to move Division II and 3 football to that Sunday scenario. 
Now we understand there are always going to be challenges.  There are going to be folks who will struggle a little bit to get this done.  But we also think it's probably time to make that move. 
But, as we do in most cases like this, we are not going to make this move unless we hear from a sufficient number of SIDs that this is something that you all want. 
I can also tell you that much like we did with Single‑Game Reporting in men's and women's basketball a few years ago in Divisions II and III, we do not necessarily have to have Division III go the same way as Division II.¬† Certainly we could accommodate that, but, for example, if Division II SIDs said, hey, we're ready to go to football stats on a Sunday, but Division III says, we're not quite ready to do that, that's fine with us.¬†
We can shift our programming in such a way that we can post Division II football stats on a Sunday afternoon.  We can continue to do Division III on a Monday afternoon.  That is going to be strictly up to all of you, and we'll probably talk about this extensively at the CoSIDA convention.  We'll probably send out a questionnaire shortly after the convention and let everybody kind of vote about which way we want to go with football. 
Let me jump to baseball/softball, Divisions II and III.¬† As most of you may be aware, we are now in or we are moving toward having Division II and 3 softball also go to the Single‑Game Reporting system next spring, meaning the spring of 2013.¬†
So those of you in Division II and 3 have already done with virtually every other sport, except women's volleyball, we are going to implement in the spring of 2013 for baseball, softball. 
But as we've had suggestions with SIDs in both divisions, there's been some thought about instead of doing the stats on a Monday or a Tuesday, that maybe we move the baseball and/or softball stats to a Thursday and a Friday.  The logic there being that then SIDs would have completely up to date numbers going into their weekend conference games. 
So, again, much like all of the other things that we do, that is certainly something that we can do, that we are willing to do is actually move the posting of baseball and softball stats to a different day of the week if, again, the majority of the SIDs feel that that is of an advantage to them. 
Now, the one caveat I would have to throw your way about this particular idea is that the Division II and 3 baseball and softball committees, the ones that currently use the scores we're getting from the conferences this year for score reporting, they would still need those scores through Sunday games by the end of the day each Monday. 
So as we move towards Single‑Game Reporting in baseball/softball, we'd still have to ask all of you to make sure you'd get your games through Sunday to us by the first part of Monday each week.¬† But then we'd hold off posting the stats until a Thursday or a Friday to make sure you get all of those mid‑week games in as well.¬†
Again, this is just something we're still talking about.  We don't know exactly whether everybody in Division II or 3 would want to go this route of waiting until a Thursday or Friday, but just like football, we have no qualms about baseball going one way, softball going another way.  Division II going one way, Division III going another way. 
Fortunately, our programming is pretty flexible, and we can adjust to whatever the membership would want. 
Two more quick notes.  I don't want to take too much more time here.  We also want to touch briefly on women's volleyball.  Those of you who might have been at CoSIDA last year are aware that we have kind of said, and maybe I shouldn't even say kind of, we have kind of laid down the law to say we've gone long enough in the sport of women's volleyball in Division II and 3 where schools are keeping their own stats for themselves and not providing an up to date complete box score for this sport.  We are now well past the 25 to 30 year mark for doing women's sports. 
With rare exception, virtually every other sport across all divisions does have complete box scores.¬† So, CoSIDA last year, we kind of promoted it a little bit throughout this year, we've said to our Division II and 3 SIDs and volleyball community that we'd like to give you a two‑year warning, and then indicate that in the fall of 2013, now that's not next fall.¬† That's a year from now.¬†
But in the fall of 2013, we're going to move to a Single‑Game Reporting system for women's volleyball.¬†
We know there is going to be a lot of angst out there, and people concerned with how to get this done.  But to be honest, our bottom line is if we keep putting it off and keep talking about well, it's going to be difficult. 
Tournaments are tough to handle, then we may never get to this point.¬† I think it's just a matter of time that we need to get to the point where volleyball is like all the other sports.¬† After 19 years of the kind of reporting we're getting, we think it's time to go to a single‑game system in, and fall of 2013 is the time to do that.¬†
The final note is something about, and we've touched on this a few times, but the project is now coming to an end.  In the NCAA database, and specifically if you go to NCAA.org and to our archives page, we have been working the last two years to take all of those hard copy reports that many of you have submitted to us before we went all paperless.  We have begun digitizing all of those reports and making them available online. 
This is literally every report in every division that we have done from the beginning, including some football games that go back into the 1930s.  So we have now successfully posted PDFs of all sports completely with the exception of Division I football and they are already out there and available. 
We project that the Division I football forms will be complete and posted probably by early fall.  So that will mean there will be an additional 400,000 PDFs of statistics going back to many, many decades.  It will allow you to go back and say, boy, we had a fire in 1975, and I don't have my final stats for men's basketball anymore.  Well, assuming your predecessor filed that report with us in 1975 you can now go to our site right now, call up your school, that sport, and that year, and see a PDF version of that original form that you filled out for us nearly 30 years ago. 
Now before I run out of voice, I will stop short and throw it back to Eric for any questions you may have. 
ERIC McDOWELL:  You touched on a lot of topics, and that's exactly what we were looking for for the call.  We know there are a lot of things to touch on.  What is great is I've got a ton of questions in the hopper, some are particular, some are general, but you'll find that many of them will serve all of the membership in all of the divisions. 
First thing I want to ask Jim is really more of a brief discussion is how far you folks have come.  I remember first meeting you and Steve and thinking about these days.  The reason I mention is this last night we had a celebratory dinner of the 40th anniversary dinner of Title IX.  It's a remarkable job of what's happened for women's athletics for most of us who remember the AIAW days and how things have improved. 
The thing I want to touch with you on is you folks are the first to do a lot for women's athletics collegiately, because you started working with statistics.  So just touch on that, because it is 40 years now.  When I did think last night about Title IX and the wonderful opportunities for women's athletics, I thought about the NCAA statistics, because prior to that you couldn't find a leading rebounder anywhere. 
So, Jim, just touch on that and your thoughts? 
JIM WRIGHT:  I think two things would come to mind, Eric.  We have always in the statistics stats taken a lot of pride in the fact that if you went to the statistics website and had no idea of how divisions were broken down or how sports were treated, you'd have no way by looking at our statistics, which is a Division I, Division II or a Division III statistic. 
When we first divide all of our programs, we wrote them with our IT staff deliberately to say, look, if you're a Division III student‑athlete, if you're a Division I student‑athlete, we want the statistical experience, the numbers that we post to look exactly the same.¬†
So when the NCAA assumed responsibility for women's championships in '81, '82, we did the same thing back then with those women's sports.¬† Women's basketball, the statistics, the records we have look exactly like the men's basketball statistics and records.¬† That was done deliberately, because we think every student‑athlete should be treated the same way.¬†
The other thing we did that I'm particularly proud of, and I'm glad Bonnie is here because she was the main person to take care of this, but we discovered three or four years ago now, the University of Maryland Library had a lot of archival information about the AIAW years, that is before the NCAA took over. 
So we assigned Bonnie the fairly daunting task of sorting through all of that data and calling it in in such a way that we could then make it available to the membership on our website.  So let me turn it over to Bonnie, and have her give you an overview of some of the things that we have available through the AIAW archives. 
BONNIE JOHNSON:  We are fortunate that we were able to get quite a bit.  They had boxes and box, and they were very generous with their time in agreeing to PDF pretty much everything for us, sending us scans and everything like that.  So we've been fortunate with some great interns as well, because we kind of shifted a lot of the grunt work on to them. 
We have compiled a PDF section with the national champions from the years prior to when the NCAA took over the sport, individual champions.  A lot of times it will lead to the coaches who coached those years.  We have a lot of blanks in it though, a lot of the data is missing.  They just didn't have records of those years. 
So what is available to us, we have turned around and put it into the record books, labeled it usually pre‑NCAA or AIAW, and it's posted as a separate section for the folks that we do record books for.¬† For the others, we've included it with championship results, and we usually do a general email at the beginning of the season when you're going through the website ‑‑¬† check and see if you have any of the missing info.¬†
We do direct emails to SIDs‑‑ Might you have this information, your team was one of the top two that year.¬† So basically, we have a few holes in some sports, a lot of holes in other sports.¬† But if you ever get the chance in your unlimited time in the summer, I know, go ahead and pop in to an AIAW section, if you know you had a dominant team back in those days, and see if you might have any of the information that we're missing.¬†
Thanks to all of the SIDs that did great turnarounds when we were asking for info, and got us a coach's name that year that we might not have had in our database or a location of an event.  We had the score of the champions but no sites. 
Those are basically wrapped up.  We've got a few more sections to go, and then everything will be available online. 
ERIC McDOWELL:  We'll start with the questions.  Could the NCAA possibly produce a tutorial video about how to do stats, for example, basketball, volleyball?  Is there a big request for this? 
This person said they're constantly training new students and assistants and wondered if the NCAA could produce a video that shows how to call a game in type.  We could visualize what the video would look like, and it could be a great way for us to save time when training new workers as well as at our convention when you have first time SIDs and moving to a school with a new sport they're not familiar with.  Love your thoughts on this. 
BONNIE JOHNSON:  I'll jump in on that one.  We have a video online for volleyball and how to stat it.  But it's not how to stat it in Statco, but it's what the statistics actually are for the sport. 
So if someone's looking for how to take the statistics for a volleyball match, what is a block, a dig, an assist, a kill, all of that, we've got that in a video online.¬† To get to that it's the NCAA.org, then you're going to choose the statistics link on the bottom right‑hand side, then the sport volleyball, and you'll scroll down to the bottom.¬† It will say statistics manual, volleyball video, And it's broken down into the different sections of the volleyball statistics.¬†
However, as far as stating it to be used with stat code, that would be something that Statco would handle since it's their product. 
JIM WRIGHT:  I would say too, we have talked about doing other videos.  However, we have literally kind of a zero budget to do this, and both Bonnie and Jen Rogers of our staff actually worked with the University of Indianapolis a few years ago to put together that volleyball video at virtually no cost. 
We thought volleyball would be the most appropriate one to have a video for, initially, because volleyball does seem to be the one that's the most difficult to keep stats for. 
We certainly would like to do other sports whether it's basketball, football, anything else.  I think part of that has to do with the budget that would be required to put together a video.  It does take quite a bit of time. 
It's worthwhile, but we also think our stat manuals, short of having the visual representation of what an assist may be in basketball, we think most of those descriptions are pretty complete and for the most part should answer most questions. 
ERIC McDOWELL:¬† You talked about volleyball, and everyone would agree it is time to get that in place.¬† What is nice is you've given the time to follow 2013.¬† The misnomer, and I know you can clear this up is people are worried they feel they have to do in‑game, play‑by‑play and file immediately after, and I believe the case is that a manual box score could be kept and filed after.¬† Is that correct?¬†
BONNIE JOHNSON:  Yes, that is correct.  We're not mandating that anyone keep it in game.  It is one of the most difficult ones to keep with all the touches and everything.  But as long as they're able to keep a manual box score and they compile it at the end of the game. 
I had talked with Monica from stat crew at the last CoSIDA just trying to make sure they'll keep supporting the ability for SIDs to go in and manually do the box scores.  She said that would be in place for the next few years.  Probably something we'll want to have SIDs follow up on again this year when everyone gets a chance to talk to the Stat Crew folks, just to make sure if it fades out that few years, that their Stat Crew is ready by that point. 
ERIC McDOWELL:  A follow up on this, I think it's imperative for those of you listening and others later about staffing, folks, there are many cases where you need to ask.  You've got to get the staffing.  People will say I can't do this or I'm afraid to ask or whatever.  The fact of the matter is those four letters help you get what you need, the NCAA.  The NCAA will require volleyball statistics. 
If you have home football, field hockey, ice hockey, cribbage, and you're hosting a four team, four match Friday, four match Saturday volleyball, the reply cannot be I can't do this.  It's going to have to find a way.  The way to do that is to go to the PR Director and state that you have to have an intern or you have to have professional people. 
When I talk about professional people, no offense, but not somebody off the street.  I'm talking about somebody that has sports information background or will do so. 
As you can see, a think a lot of people are concerned because they're afraid that under the existing staffing, a one‑person D3 or even a five‑person D1 that has 12 teams going on and media demands, they're afraid they can't do it.
I'd like your thoughts about‑ where I was going with this‑ this is something that can be trained, but it's also something that can help serve these student‑athletes and the NCAA will back us up.¬† Thoughts on that?¬†
JIM WRIGHT:¬† I think that's right, Eric.¬† And our view from a statistical standpoint is every other sport, and I think sometimes softball also runs into this issue when you're say one of those spring trips in Division III.¬† But to me there is no reason why if we even manage to have two or three or in some cases four or five people keep stats at a college football game in Division II or 3, why can't we find a couple of people to do Division II or 3 volleyball?¬† It's really doing a disservice to those student‑athletes that we're not doing as good a job as we should.¬†
If you have a big tournament, and if your coach or AD has put together a multi‑team volleyball tournament, well, somehow the school has managed to figure out how to hire game officials, people to keep track of the facilities, to clean the facilities, to take the tickets, so why would we stop short and not hire in sufficient numbers of statisticians?¬†
Again, if you know ahead of time that you're going to be hosting such an event, you can reach out to your public relations office on campus, or even to your journalism department and say, hey, look, we're going to have a huge volleyball tournament this fall.  We'd like to have some of your journalism students earn extra credit by becoming volleyball statisticians.  We'll show them in the sports information office how to do that, and we'll work with you, journalism professor, to come up with some credit or some hours that we can pay them to do this job. 
We know it won't be easy, but we also think it is just flat out unfair that women's volleyball players do not get the same opportunity to have their statistics accurately recorded like virtually every other student‑athlete.¬†
ERIC McDOWELL:  That's exactly right.  And that comes back to how the people are staffing it.  This is what we're trying to say to the sports information professional around the country is to say you have to get the people.  You can stay that the NCAA requires it and you're serving those students. 
Again, it's great that you have that leeway where they can prepare for that. 
Now this is a very popular question.  I morphed about four of them together in this.  People are concerned about the reporting, not about reporting it, but how they can report something accurately in all divisions, actually, for baseball and softball, for example, with spring trips.  Most importantly, neutral site games, for you fans. 
Let's say you've got a sport where School A is playing your school at McKinley High School in Ohio, and you are not able to go.  They are not able to attend.  You're hoping there is a scorebook.  Obviously, there is a big concern about keeping accurate statistics. 
So if you folks could touch on that sort of thing.  How do we resolve that?  Can we require coaches to insure that somebody is home, and if that is the case, how do you come to staffing?  How can you make sure a neutral site game is kept correctly and accurately? 
JIM WRIGHT:  We have run into this quite a bit, especially this spring.  It does happen even on the Division I level, not just Division II and III.  But the interesting thing about this particular issue is even though we as NCAA stat boys and girls want the numbers to be correct, believe it or not, both baseball and softball are one of the few sports where the actual rules of the game, not the stats policies, but the rules of the game require that an official score keeper shall at every baseball or softball contest. 
Very specifically, in the softball rules book, it addresses tournaments and says that tournament directors must be responsible for arranging for an official scorekeeper to be at all of those games.  So I guess I would suggest to coaches, and I know there are probably no coaches on the line here, but if you're a coach going to one of these tournaments in Florida, I think it would behoove you to ask of the organizers, well, okay, will there be official statisticians at each of my games as per the rule of the game in softball? 
I think if coaches say, wait a minute, if I've got to designate one of my kids on the bench to keep a book or I've got to bring in an extra person, it's not worth it for me to come to your tournament.  If you're going to put together a tournament, similar to what we were talking about in volleyball, shouldn't those organizers be providing score keepers, again, as specified in the rules of the game? 
ERIC McDOWELL:  The theme we're hearing from you folks is you can't start the game without an official.  You can't start the game without usually PA or some other areas, and you surely can't start a game without an accurate recording of it is what you're saying too. 
JIM WRIGHT:  Right.  And SIDs, I know are especially hard pressed in the spring, but I think that is the question you need to ask of either your coach or the organizer of the tournament to say how are these stats being kept or who is keeping those numbers?  Because I think it is unfair to ask a kid who is sitting on the bench for each team to keep this book. 
Because that is why we run into it, and we've run into it this year where two teams played a game in Florida.  We get results from each individual conference report and the score of the game is different. 
Now, fortunately the winning team is the same, but the scores are different.¬† Well, frankly, that's just nuts.¬† There is no way a softball game should have two different scores from two different sources that is, again, one of the reasons we want to move to the Single‑Game Reporting in baseball‑softball next spring.¬†
ERIC McDOWELL:  This is a question you've had in the past, and you can provide the answer to the people that have not heard the answer before.  But statistics and SIDs and posting info for example for baseball, softball, what is an earned run, what is not an earned run? 
I think this has gone on forever and maybe something that will be very hard to correct.  Yet we know you can do the best you can to try to educate people.  People in this case, since they're not reading the rule book, and examples are given, more education is needed.  I get countless files back from SIDs where earned runs are given when they are unearned.  In some cases, one SID will change a game that was provided by someone else. 
Obviously, it's not fair or consistent.  We know you've addressed it before, but for folks that haven't heard it before, if you could touch on that, thanks. 
JIM WRIGHT:¬† I think as we mentioned before, we have statistician manuals for virtually every sport.¬† Now in baseball/softball, the statistics part of the manual of the rules book‑‑ I should say, the rules book includes the statistician's manual.¬† I'm not sure whether it would serve us that well to continually post frequently asked questions about how to keep score of games.¬†
The problem is it may address one issue, it may cause a question from another standpoint, and suddenly, to be honest, our staff will then spend all day answering specific scoring questions about specific contests. 
Now that's not to say we don't already do that, and on occasion we do hear from SIDs who have a question about scoring rules and we try to get back to them as quickly as we can.  I think the issue about people changing stats or changing runs and earned runs, well, again, that's pretty much limited to baseball and softball because we currently don't have a single box score for every game.  That will change starting next year. 
It's something we saw even in the sport of basketball.¬† When we first went to the single game system in basketball four years ago, and we're talking Division I here.¬† We saw significant changes in certain schools and certain leagues in their numbers.¬† Because suddenly now there was a single‑report filed by the home team that is the official reporting of the contest.¬†
That goes back to a basic requirement of all NCAA sports that the home statistician is the official statistician.  And if you, as the visitor, disagree with a scoring decision, it's your responsibility to go to the home SID and make that case to change it.  But at the end of the day, the home SID has the final say. 
ERIC McDOWELL:  Let's take on the diamond.  A particular one, but everybody talks about assists usually in the sports of hockey, lacrosse, basketball.  This is a good one and unique for some folks.  According to section 14 if an infielder, say the shortstop, fields the ball and makes an accurate throw to first base, but the first baseman drops the ball and allows the batter to reach safely, the shortstop still receives credit for an assist. 
The person feels that doesn't make a lot of sense.  It would be like Wes Welker getting the yardage on a ball that hypothetically he might have caught to win the Super Bowl for my team.  Hypothetically, of course. 
We know this is not the place to define statistics, but your thoughts on that.  Some of the questions that come up, because if it's in the book, we have to follow it.  We may not agree with it, but we have to follow what's written down. 
JIM WRIGHT:  Well, I'm a long time baseball guy.  I can tell you that this rule of giving an assist even when there is no put out literally goes back 50 years.  This has been on the ledgers both in Major League Baseball and college baseball for as long as I can remember.  I don't think I necessarily buy the analogy to other sports. 
I would argue, however, that in the game of baseball and the rules of baseball, that this particular category of assigning assists has been around for a long time.  To be honest, I'm not sure we on the statistics staff would be inclined to make a change to a scoring rule that's been there for 50 years. 
I don't necessarily agree with the person who wrote the question that says this is the same as some of these other sports.  Baseball is a different sport.  The baseball scoring rules have been in place for a long time.  I don't see a reason why we want to change it. 
ERIC McDOWELL:  I think the credit is being made of an assist to the person that made it.  It could be defined to maybe a pass.  It's very interesting, pass in the sport of basketball, in that case, the shortstop made an excellent throw and the error was made by one person, but not taking away a statistic of an assist for the other. 
Last one I want to hit is lacrosse, for those people that have lacrosse.  Over the last, I guess, it's been about five years, the NCAA took over putting together manuals for both men's and women's lacrosse.  We were very fortunate to be involved with that.  We really thank your staff, Jim, for their excellent work on it, and Jennifer, excellent job for that. 
But the thing we'd like to touch on briefly before we wrap on that is, number one, how that's gone for you folks and do you feel people really are getting the sport now a lot better statistically?¬† And are there any other sports that have different statistics playing the same sport for men and women?¬† Any sport that causes a face‑off or draw, for example, that has a different statistic for women than men and vice versa? ¬†
BONNIE JOHNSON:  I'll jump in on this one.  Jen is wrapping up a tournament week for the next two weeks, and she's been handling that with JD.  I think they've been very happy with the way it's gone.  Each of them in men's and women's lacrosse has acquired a group of people in the know that if they get an odd question that we're not certain of the answer to, they refer it to a member or two of to off some expert analysis. 
They've been invaluable a number of times from the creation of the stats manual, and the oddball questions that come in of how do you handle this in a scoring situation? 
As far as a sport that would be stated differently, what we're kind of looking at and nodding in agreement is baseball/softball.¬† We have a number of situations in which you get an RBI on a double‑play in softball, you don't in baseball for hitting into a double‑play, different things like that.¬† We have a few differences between those sports.¬†
JIM WRIGHT:  Yeah, like a runner placed at second.  That's true. 
BONNIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, exactly. 
ERIC McDOWELL:  I'll get one more in here before we wrap up.  Can the Division I men's basketball statistics be compiled and available online early in the season instead of December?  And related to the national stat rankings, can they be available early on Fridays so there is time included for game notes for the weekend?  I think you touched on this a bit, but if you have anything to add on that? 
JIM WRIGHT:  I think in terms of when we start the stats, we can really start them about any time anybody wants.  But I don't think you have to be a statistician to know that when everybody's going to play, two three, four games, we don't think the national statistics are very significant.  The number is going to change so wildly that we don't think the numbers really are going to be used for anything worthwhile. 
Say you're the nation's leading scorer when your guy played three games, to me, doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment.  But we're continually working with Division I, II, and III in regards to when we start any sports particular statistical season.  We do think that we need to start it at a time that makes every team have the ability to play three or four games more than just early in the season. 
In terms of the Friday release, and I do Division I Women's Basketball, so I can tell you that if everybody got their box scores in to me on Thursday night, we'd post the Friday stats at midnight Thursday morning or Friday morning.  So literally, the only thing holding us up in posting stats on a Friday or a Monday or any time, is literally waiting on those schools to get us those box scores. 
Again, one of the things we talked about early on is the sooner we can get every SID used to posting their XML after their game, rather than waiting for us to send them a reminder the next morning, that means we can put the stats out a lot sooner.  There were many Fridays during the basketball season, the women's basketball season, that I didn't get the last file in until after noon on Friday.  That's the only reason that those stats came out as late as they did. 
ERIC McDOWELL:¬† This one the easy answer for you is somebody saw in front of the regionals they've always done the box scores with caps last name, upper‑lower first name, then some of the box scores in the men's basketball regionals like in Atlanta they saw first last.¬†
What do you want to tell the membership as far as this is how we should see the names in box scores for basketball, for example? 
JIM WRIGHT:  I don't think we've ever actually set that up.  It could be maybe the basketball people in championships have done something like that, but for us, it makes no difference whether it says "Jim Wright," "Wright, Jim," "Wright, J."  We don't have a preference one way or the other.
ERIC McDOWELL:  That's good to know for those of you wondering about that.  First of all, check with your league also because some of the leagues do have a policy, and then when you get to the tournament, check the championships how they list it as well. 
Let me give you just a moment to give us a final comment on things, and a tremendous job by all of you and everyone in Indianapolis.¬† We truly appreciate all you do and the amazing work you've done with the technology and getting things so up to date so quickly for our student‑athletes, families and alumni.¬† Just some final thoughts?¬†
JIM WRIGHT:  Like I mentioned early on, Eric, one of the things that we've always tried to do is work very closely with the sports information community.  Whether it means going to the NCAA conventions each year, as we will again this year, or trying as well as we can to answer every question and email, phone calls directly from the membership. 
We want to make sure this remains a completely collaborative arrangement.  We try to make sure that decisions that we make, maybe Division II and III volleyball stats are the exception.  But for the most part we want to make sure that the things that we do, the changes that we make, the deadlines we set, are all done with the complete cooperation and understanding of the SIDs. 
We always try to be‑‑ we answer our phones.¬† When somebody calls, you don't get an assistant or a secretary.¬† We answer our own phones.¬† No question is too big or too small for us to answer, and that's going to be our philosophy today, tomorrow and whenever.¬†
ERIC McDOWELL:  All right.  As Yogi might have said if he had been in this profession, Nobody understands us better than us.  I think you might understand that because you are us.  You've been on our side, and we do appreciate everything. 
Thank you so much for your time today.  We want to thank Josh from TRZ as well as Barb for putting this together, from our external operations director from CoSIDA. 
Let me give you a brief upcoming look.  We don't have summer repeats coming up.  We have original programming here in our continuing Ed series.  Next will be May 17th, we're looking at Bob Williams and NCAA Division I discussion for our Division I sports communication professionals.  This will be a very beneficial session on May 17th, from 3:00 to 3:45. 
On May 31st we'll have NCAA Division III session with Dan Dutcher, the vice president of the NCAA for Division III.  Also at 3:30 to 4:00, Mike Racy, Dan's counterpart, the VP for Division II will be our guest. 
Also, June 7 for the first time we'll be welcoming Jim Carr, the NAIA president, and we'll have a session for our NAIA members from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. Eastern time.  And we'll close it June 14 with a college admission management advisory panel, entitled Making the Most of Your Summertime Hours, as Dave Walters at Guilford will be joined by other college SIDs from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern on June 14.  Thanks to all of our panelists. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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