OXFORD – Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone blew off steam at the NCAA Wednesday, but nothing will change with the school’s seeding for the NCAA tennis tournament.
On Tuesday it was announced that Ole Miss, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, will not host the first two rounds as it has done for the last eight seasons but will travel to LSU.
The selection committee emphasized a policy of “regionalization” which is aimed at reducing travel. Therefore, Rice, of Houston, Texas, will join Ole Miss, LSU and Alcorn State in Baton Rouge and not have to travel further to Oxford. Ole Miss will face Alcorn State in the first round.
Boone, tennis coach Billy Chadwick and associate athletics director Lynette Johnson were part of a conference call with NCAA representatives.
Competing in what many regard as the nation’s strongest tennis conference, the Rebels completed the SEC regular season and tournament without a loss.
They also lead the nation in attendance.
The university administration and the NCAA basically agreed to disagree.
“I told them I have been on NCAA committees, and there’s always flexibility written into policy to take care of situations like this,” Boone said. “What I feel happened is they never stepped back, took a deep breath and said, ‘Is this right?’ because in fact it is not right. Don’t tell me they couldn’t have re-seeded or changed things to do what was right in the long run.”
The policy also affected Baylor, the No. 6 seed, which will not host the first two rounds.
Decisions such as this are not usually reversed after the fact, and Boone did not expect change to result from his phone call.
He expects the university and the SEC to take the lead in working for policy to protect the higher-seeded teams in the future.
“I would think we would make a concerted effort to present information to the championship cabinet to find a process in the dialogue by which we can make sure the top four or eight teams are given the opportunity to host,” Boone said.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal