NOTE: Mike Jacki was kind enough to point out the NCAA and its rules would not allow an arrangement like this, but all involved in the sport should continue to try to come up with a solution for the crisis in collegiate gymnastics.
Everyone in the sport has been concerned with the rapid rate at which universities and colleges have been closing down gymnastics programs for both men and women. The result is fewer and fewer gymnastics scholarships and collegiate competition program choices for both men and women. For men it has been a blow to our traditional Olympic and World Championship training system. For both men and women, it has greatly reduced one of the benefits which both gymnasts and gym parents look forward to – a college scholarship.
For Colleges, Gymnastics is Expensive
While the gymnastics community has been up in arms, it is not hard to understand the position of the colleges and Universities. To run the program, they must shoulder the expense of a large specialized training facility, which can only be used for those few gymnasts on the team and cannot even double as a competition arena. No other students in the University are allowed to use the facility for liability reasons.
College Gymnastics Facilities Serve Only a Very Few Students
In general, the expense of the equipment and facility for so few students in what is generally a non-revenue sport leads to the decision that so many Universities have made. Shut down the gymnastics program and increase other women’s programs and just eliminate the men’s program to even up the Title 9 ratios.
Privatization – Club Programs Provide Coaching, Facilities and Equipment
The innovative solution to benefit all parties is to privatize gymnastics training. By this we mean, that private gymnastics clubs should negotiate a deal with their local college/University to provide the coaching, equipment and training facility for the college/University gymnastics team.
The University Provides Scholarships and Competition Team Expenses
The University would provide payment for the coaching, scholarships, travel and all other competition and NCAA costs. The college would provide trainers, strength facilities, team manager, scholarships and dealings with the NCAA.. The gym can afford to be very reasonable in renting their gym facility and equipment to the college since they should already be making a profit without this program
Win, Win, Win
This allows colleges/Universities to provide a gymnastics team with scholarships at a greatly reduced cost to them and improves the income level of the private club and coach. The sport of gymnastics can halt the shrinkage in collegiate programs and perhaps even reverse the trend for both men and women. This privatization strategy can work for colleges and Universities that currently have programs, reopen dropped programs or start new teams where there never was a program before.
FIG, NCAA and USA Gymnastics
Collegiate gymnasts could compete in both U.S. competitive gymnastics systems qualifying for National and International FIG competitions, like the World Championships and the Olympics. For men, this would likely create a much stronger base of gymnasts from which to draw international competitors as in the past. For women, it might open up more international competition opportunities for collegiate age women. To facilitate this even more, USAG and the NCAA could co-ordinate Regional and National competition schedules.
Multiple Coaching Solutions
The coaching situation could be handled in any number of ways. The current collegiate coach could be retained or the university could hire and pay the coach. The current head coach at the gym could handle the coaching chores either at the same time as the gym team or at a separate time during the day. The gym could contract to provide coaching services with the payment going to the gym and they pay the coaches salary and benefits. Likely, both the college and the gym will want some degree of approval of who does the coaching.
Current Collegiate Gymnastics Facilities Can Be Reclaimed
For collegiate programs that already have equipment, the gym could “buys out” the school equipment (or trade for rent time) or help sell the equipment leaving one or two sets for competitions at the University. Current collegiate gymnastics facilities could be converted and reclaimed for general student use.
While it is unlikely that insurance rates will be less, even the insurance companies should be happy that any insurance costs would likely be shared between the collegiate insurance policy and the gym insurance with riders on both policies covering the gym and college. A double waiver system would have to be signed by gymnast and parents for the gym and university.
The Sport of Gymnastics and All Parties Benefit
This type of privatization could benefit all parties involved. The sport of gymnastics could benefit from more college scholarships and a growing (instead of shrinking) number of collegiate programs. Collegiate men’s gymnastics programs could again provide the basis for our international men’s competitors. Private clubs could have another source of income, prestige and future scholarships for their age-group gymnasts. Colleges could provide a popular sport (which might serve as a student recruitment tool) at a very reasonable cost, not have to pay for equipping and maintaining an expensive facility and field a well-coached team.
The “Best” for Everyone
We understand that this is an entirely new concept that may require quite a bit of explanation and negotiation, but since it provides benefits to all concerned, it is certainly a deal that could be made. Don’t forget you heard the privatization solution first here at GymnasticsZone.com and that no other successful solution has been widely effective. We are available as consultants to help negotiate and implement this program and we hope that the “Elitest” coaches and programs in each college and University area start to negotiate and implement this privatization concept right away.