Collegiate Rule Changes for 2013


For 2013, the USA Cycling rule book has been completely revised from top to bottom, with lots of big changes to the collegiate chapter,
2013 USAC Rulebook
2013 USAC Rulebook
especially. Here’s a rundown of the bigger changes. These are in order of the rule, not importance, so be sure to look through the whole thing. Remember, it is the rider’s responsibility to know the rules, so it can’t hurt to look through the actual rule book and familiarize yourself with this information first hand.

Overall: Lots of rules were deleted, including such things as the definitions section and the mission statement. Most of these deletions fell into one of these categories:

1.    Unenforceable: The rule book is intended to be rules for competition, and the collegiate chapter was historically more of an operation manual for the sport. As a rule of thumb, if there wasn’t or couldn’t be a penalty for violating a rule, it was cut. The mission statement, while still vital to collegiate cycling () is not a rule.
2.    Redundant: Back in the day, the collegiate chapter was its own rule book, separate from the USA Cycling rules, and a lot of overlap remained between the two. Basically any reference to “USA Cycling rules,” as if they were different from the collegiate chapter, was cut.
3.    Fluff: The collegiate chapter had some room to tighten its belt, and it went on a diet. Things like the definitions were cut because officials and USA Cycling have the ability to interpret the rules, and don’t need contractual definitions and capitalized terms to make things clear. As a result, every mention of Rider became rider, Team became team, and so on. That was a fun project…

6E4. Clothing at National Championship Podiums Costumes are fun at national championships, but they make podium shots all but unusable for other teams and individuals that want to take those photos back to their schools and use them to promote the sport and their success. Beginning in 2013, all riders on national championship podiums will be required to wear team or school clothing. And no, mascot costumes don’t count.

6H. National Standardized Conference Scoring Some of the most visible non-national championship rule changes have to do with scoring. Before we delve into the rule changes, here is an outline of how conference scoring will function (individual race scoring is basically unchanged):

1.    For any discipline/gender combination from a given weekend, such as male road race, female dual slalom, or male cyclo-cross, we total up the top four riders from each team in the As, the Bs, the Cs, and so on. For team events like the TTT or MTB Team Relay, we take each team’s highest placed squad in each category.
2.    We then rank each team based on these totals.
3.    Based on this ranking, we throw out the individual points and assign Team Points, which come from a 50 point scale, 20 places deep. So the team with the most points now has 50 points, the team with the second most has 43, and so on.
4.    This is repeated for each discipline/gender combination. So for a typical road weekend, the maximum score would be 300 points, with 50 points each from the male and female road races, male and female crits, and the male and female TTTs.  
5.    The season totals will be the sum of all the race weekends, with conference championships counting for double points.
6.    Nationals allocations are determined in the same way, except that instead of summing a team's top 4 riders from each category, it's simply the top 4 riders (and top TTT/Relay squad) from the As.

All these changes incorporate various policies and procedures from all the conferences, with the final structure being most consistent with what the ECCC has used for several years. Take a look at their overall rankings from last year’s road and MTB seasons to get a better idea of how this will work in your conference. More specifically, below are the individual changes and some reasoning behind them.

6H1. Team points make the old TTT points obsolete, so TTTs are scored based on the same points table as every discipline except crits.

6H2. Because conferences are different sizes, they are now able to score points deeper, if needed. It doesn’t make sense to use the same points table for a conference of 50 as one of 1,000.

6H3. Team points are a positive change for two reasons:
1.    Equality: With team points, even if there are 10 women and 100 men racing, there is still exactly the same number of points on the line for each gender.
2.    Close competition: Team points prevent one team from blowing the doors off the competition in one or two weekends and calling it a day.

6H4. Some conferences scored divisions separately, but this will no longer be allowed. This way, if there’s a Division II break up the road, Division I riders have reason to chase them down. This doesn’t mean you can’t compare your results to others within your division, however. It just means that when points are assigned, both at the individual and team level, they are assigned without regard for division.

6H5. Previously, some conferences dropped a team and/or individual’s lowest scoring races from their total. This has been revised to make all races count, not to force riders to attend all events, but to more fairly reward those teams and individuals that are able to race more consistently. This has proven a contentious topic in some conferences, so for more on this topic, please read on here.

6H6. Most conferences do something like this already, but conference championships are now worth double points across the board.

6H7. Conferences are free to have both an endurance and gravity omnium (while in some conferences, the overall omnium is just endurance by default- I’m looking at you, SCCCC), but the overall omnium will be a combination of endurance and gravity points.

6H10. A few years ago, after one large and dominant team went to an out of conference race and stole almost all that conference’s points (ahem, Lindsey Wilson…), a rule was put into place so that out of conference racers did not take away scoring opportunities from riders. This is pretty complicated to score efficiently, however, and isn’t necessary 99% of the time. So we’re changing it back to the old rule, but giving conferences the opportunity to switch it up as they may need.

6I1. National Team Rankings BMX National Championships now count toward the overall national team rankings.

6J2. Varsity Team Recruiting With the recent explosion of varsity cycling teams, collegiate cycling is at an interesting point where schools are treating cycling like they might football or basketball, but without the regulation of the NCAA. This means that it’s the Wild West in terms of recruiting and transfers.

This first rule prohibits teams from actively recruiting other varsity teams’ athletes or talking with those athletes about transfers without first receiving acknowledgement from that rider’s coach. Teams that violate these rules will be fined and lose start spots at national championships. Flagrant violations result in a complete loss of national championship eligibility. This works to combat, at the least, a lack of communication between athletes and their teams about their desire to go elsewhere or explore options, and at the most, shady recruiting tactics.

A process has been put in place to regulate and monitor transfers, and a page will be up on the collegiate page soon to outline that. Athletes on varsity teams should have already signed transfer registration forms with their coaches.

6J3. Varsity Team Transfers This second rule regarding varsity transfers sets a waiting period between when an athlete can notify his or her coach and when the transfer can be considered complete. It also then sets deadlines for eligibility based on when the transfer is completed.

But why should transfers be regulated at all? Isn’t it a free market? Not entirely- the agreement between a school and a student athlete depends on the promise that a school will devote its resources to develop that athlete in the future. The athlete receives a free or discounted education and the resources of a team in exchange for their commitment to the team. Athletes that wish to transfer to a non-varsity program are exempt from these requirements, as they are typically transferring for non-athletic purposes. A big part of the emphasis here is to make sure that athletes are doing their researching and exercising due diligence before deciding on a school in the first place, because once that commitment is made, current and future resources are allocated to that athlete and are challenging to move around. Additionally, communication just needs to be proactive on everyone’s part, and these rules will help encourage that.

(Rules about collegiate national championships have been moved from the Collegiate chapter to the all-encompassing Championships chapter.)

7I1b. National Championship Eligibility For schools that are not on semesters, the old championship eligibility table was a little confusing, so we’ve simplified it so that to compete at a national championship you have to be a full-time student during one of the following:
(i) On the date of the national championship, or
(ii) During the academic term that immediately precedes it (or in the case of track and cyclo-cross, precedes or succeeds it), or
(iii) During the majority of events during the conference season for that discipline.

7I7b/g. ITT at Road Nationals There will be an individual time trial national championship at road national championships this year to give additional racing opportunities to riders who either don’t have a big enough team for the TTT, or didn’t make their team’s squad for that event. Or, for gluttons for punishment. The event won’t count toward the team or individual omniums, so as not to force athletes to race four times in three days.

7I8b. Women's Team Pursuit To match the UCI rule change, the women’s team pursuit will now be 4km at track national championships.

7I9b/d. Team Relay at MTB Nationals Collegiate mountain bike national championships will now feature a co-ed team relay. The event will only count toward the team omnium and will follow this format:
1.    The race will take place on either the short track course or a slightly lengthened version of it.  
2.    Each team must have at least one man and one woman, with no more than two men.
3.    The race will be four laps long, with a different rider from each team completing each lap (unless the team has fewer than four riders).
4.    A woman must complete two of the four laps for each team.  
This should be a super exciting race to watch that really encapsulates the spirit of collegiate cycling.

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This Article Updated February 28, 2013 @ 11:01 PM For more information contact: