What happens to NCAA Men's Gymnastics now?

Plus, an answer to an CFB25 question I get all the dang time...

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In many ways, women’s collegiate gymnastics is in a great place. More than 80 schools sponsor the sport at the D1 level, programs across the country are able to sell thousands of tickets (from Utah to the SEC and beyond), and between NIL and improved broadcast access, fans are getting to know the programs, and athletes, like never before.

But on the men’s side, things aren’t as rosy. Only 15 programs currently sponsor men’s teams, including three from outside DI. As P4 schools face revenue sharing obligations for football and basketball programs, penalties in House, and rising cost of business elsewhere in the department, many industry sources believe sports like men’s gymnastics could face budget cuts, if not outright dropping of programs.

But even though there aren’t a lot of programs, big time men’s gymnastics still helps prepare athletes for elite international competition. Four of the seven athletes listed on this year’s 2024 Team USA Men’s Gymnastics team are listed as college athletes, and the other three are former college athletes. Previous Team USA rosters included athletes from Stanford, Michigan, Oklahoma, Illinois, Ohio State, and more.

So what happens to that pipeline if other changes in college sports disrupt men’s gymnastics?

Sportico reports that USA Gymnastics is looking at potential changes to championship events

Via the story:

The NCAA is in active talks with USA Gymnastics about how to revamp its collegiate men’s gymnastics championships, conversations that could lead to coordinated major events, shared personnel, or cross-selling partnerships.

The talks are part of a pilot program run through Team USA aimed at preserving the critical pipeline between college sports and the Olympics. Stakeholders on both sides are seeking more visibility and more financial sustainability for men’s gymnastics, a model that could eventually be replicated with other sports threatened by changes underway across college athletics.

Among the many men’s gymnastics possibilities discussed is hosting coordinated events—maybe a USA Gymnastics (USAG) youth regional that coincides with the NCAA championships in the same city or venue, according to those who have attended the meetings. They’ve talked about staffing synergies that could reduce costs, sponsorship packages that could increase revenue, and also more mundane—but equally important—topics like legislative changes that could make the sport more appealing to schools and media partners. 

I’ve heard similar conversations are happening, or will be happening, in collegiate swimming, as well as other Olympic sports.

There’s probably no silver bullet here, but if Team USA wants to maintain their feeder system, they’ll need to change the current cost/benefit structure for schools. I’ve heard other US sport federations spend time and energy on grants, equipment shares and other tools to help encourage schools to launch programs.

I am skeptical that an outside body can help drive enough new revenue via corporate sponsorships, tickets, broadcast rights, etc to change sport sponsorship decisions, but I’ve been wrong before.

My suspicion is that entities outside the NCAA need to get much more involved in advocating for not just the health and well-being of collegiate programs, but youth (and post college) opportunities in just about every Olympic Sport, if federations want those sports to continue at the current scale. Most athletic directors are simply not equipped or incentivized to really advocate for these programs. They need to spend their time fundraising and on developing football and basketball.

Hopefully the men’s gymnastics community can find voices to fill that power vacuum, before other forces make decisions for them. If not, I hope Americans are ready to miss the podium more often.

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Yes, I see all your emails, tweets and DMs about football and marching band uniform mistakes in EA Sports College Football 25. Here’s what I’ve learned.

The folks at EA Sports have now dropped multiple teaser videos for College Football 25 ahead of the game’s public launch on July 19, most recently with a video highlighting recruiting and roster management in Dynasty mode.

Each of these videos also showcases gameplay featuring all sorts of different college football teams. It’s exciting to see your team finally represented and displayed, but if the designs of the uniform, stadium and everything else aren’t exactly right, well, many of those fans will notice.

I have gotten dozens of DMs, tweets, emails and more from fans, asking me to relay design inconsistencies or mistakes to EA. I’ve talked with a few folks on the team about some of those mistakes, and here’s what I’ve generally learned:

  • The visuals depicted in the game’s trailers are not always from the most absolutely current build of the game. That’s not ideal for marketing purposes, but videos need time to script, edit, etc, so updates are sometimes made after a video is shown to the world. I’ve been told that some of the more visible mistakes (outdated uniforms, Texas State’s stadium missing an upper deck) have been noted, and if not already fixed, will be fixed soon.

  • Football uniform updates are part of the game’s “Live service” appeal, and can be deployed multiple times over the life cycle of the game. It is probable, simply because there are 134 teams and north of 500 total uniform combinations, that some mistakes are going to slip into the game at launch. Some will be fixed shortly thereafter, some might take longer…and other uniforms can be added over the course of the year as well.

  • I’m told that the marching band uniforms were not built from specific asset packs sent by MMR companies or schools, like football uniforms were. Because most marching bands are only visible for a few moments during a typical game play through, the company worked from more rough presets based on a team’s official and secondary color scheme. That’s why it looks like TBDBITL is wearing the wrong color pants. I do not expect marching band uniforms to be properly set for this year, but perhaps those can be included in asset distributions for future releases.

  • I say this with legitimate love in my heart for everybody sending me these notes….but I do not make the game. I can’t bombard my sources with every possible question about glove manufacturers or chinstrap colors, because I also want them to return my text messages about bigger stuff.

Broadly speaking, I think it’s okay to say that the attention to detail for the 134 teams in this game is very deep and significant, and schools and consumers will see lots to celebrate about their program….but that it won’t be completely perfect. It’s the first game back. There will be bugs, incorrect fonts, improperly angled spirit stickers, etc.

How many? No idea. I don’t have the game yet. But I want to set that expectation now. A few of these are going to get in the game.

And with that, I’m going to take a little time off for the rest of the week. Enjoy your 4th of July holiday. Enjoy some beverages, some BBQ, some explosives, and time with loved ones. I’ll see you again on the internet next week.

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