In an attempt to make the conference more competitive regionally and nationally, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference has eased restraints on practices and the number of games institutions can schedule.
Under the rule change, KCAC schools can now practice and schedule games to the maximum the National Association of Intercollegiate Athetics?allows.
Football will move from a 10 to an 11 game schedule. KCAC schools will add a non-conference game for a total of two non-conference games and nine KCAC dates. Spring practice has also increased from 10 to 15.
Basketball will be allowed 24 weeks of practice (up from 20) and will play 32 games (up from 30).
Baseball teams will be able to schedule 55 games (previously 50).
Softball and volleyball can extend their seasons to 28 dates.
Among those involved in the decision to change the rules was Tabor president Jules Glanzer, athletic director Rusty Allen and faculty athletic representative Norm Hope.
With Tabor being among the smallest schools in the KCAC, Allen thinks the rule changes won?t give the bigger school an unfair advantage.
?We didn?t feel like those (practice and competition rules) would impact parity as much,? he said.
Tabor football coach Mike Gardner said, ?Rule changes are there for equity purposes across the board. Anytime you can do that and add to the competitvness of the league, I think that?s positive.?
Having grown competitively in the NAIA postseasons the past few years, Allen thinks the changes will help to further that progress.
?(The KCAC) hasn?t advanced clear up to the Final Four, we haven?t done that,? he said. ?But if you look, we?ve won a few more games nationally as a conference. When we?ve lost, in a lot of cases, its been nip and tuck.
Allen added, ?If you go back five or 10 or eight years, you will have noticed that we?ve made progress.?
Gardner thinks the added practice sessions will help him prepare his team better.
?Anytime your allowed more time it?s a good thing,? he said. ?It just adds to the fact that we?re going to be able to adequately prepare in a way that?s going to give us a chance to be succesful.?
With the changes comes adjustments to coaching and scheduling.
Having more time to work with the student-athletes, coaches will have to decide how to use the extra time.
Instead of cramming his players with more information, Gardner will have more time to work on developing good habits.
?I think it?s going to help our repetitions, more than anything else,? he said. ?You don?t want to overload guys with information.?
Gardner added, ?We?re going to spend a lot more time on fundamentals this year, more so than scheme.?
For the Bluejay athletic department, the biggest challenge will be how to schedule the extra games on a limited budget.
?Budget considerations are always a big deal,? said Allen. ?If you play 10 non-conference games (in basketball) and you play them in Kansas, that?s about like playing seven non-conference games and half of them being two states away.?
One other factor in the rule change is how will student-athletes be affected academically. Allen thinks lifting the additional rules will not hinder academic achievement.
?It doesn?t look like to us that they (the NAIA) set anything up that would inherently hurt the educational experience for student-athletes,? he said.
The rule changes go into effect in the 2010-11 school year for basketball, baseball, volleyball and softball.
For football, the changes go into effect in the 2011 season.