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Where can mid-majors ACTUALLY compete moving forward?

Forget baseball. Is it becoming too hard for the little guy to compete in GOLF?

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Earlier this week, in an all-SEC affair, Tennessee knocked off Texas A&M in three games to win the College World Series. All eight teams in this year’s CWS hailed from either the SEC or the ACC.

In recent memory, that’s not crazy unusual. Just one team from outside a Power Conference has qualified for a CWS since 2018 (Oral Roberts in 2023), and typically, only two or so manage to make it to the Super Regionals each year.

College softball follows a similar pattern. This year’s champion (surprise!), Oklahoma, beat Texas for the championship, right before both teams join the SEC. No team outside the power leagues has made the World Series since James Madison pulled it off in 2021, when they were still in the CAA. Before that, it hadn’t happened since 2014.

Some sports, like football, softball and women’s basketball, have been dominated by a handful of big-budget schools for decades, so a College Football Playoff or Softball World Series dominated by SEC schools should surprise exactly nobody. But other sports provided more of an opportunity for mid-majors to still meaningfully compete for championships.

In my lifetime, one of those sports was golf. But even that might be changing. Via The Perfect Putt:

College golf has historically offered parity in the form of major and mid-major schools. Three of the national champions in the last fifteen years on the men’s side have been mid-majors…..But that parity has slowly declined — the 2024 men's golf national championship featured four mid-major schools, the lowest number in the last five championships.

One of those four mid-majors is SMU, a program that joins the ACC in a few weeks. The others are New Mexico, North Florida, and East Tennessee State.

Why the change? And if mid-majors are being squeezed out of national contention in a sport life golf…one that doesn’t require a nine-figure operational budget…where can they compete?

In a world where everybody is talking about even more explicitly “tiering” the sport offerings…reinvesting money to truly compete in a smaller number of sports…this isn’t an academic question.

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