Rostergate: Your Guide to College Rostering

by | December 28, 2012, 3:28pm 0

The 2013 College Series will be the fourth year since USA Ultimate changed their bid allocation system. In that time, we have seen them hand out bids to Regionals based on a mathematical formula instead of by the number of teams that attend Sectionals and past performance. This timeframe has also seen a strong push to legitimize the sport, with USAU requiring teams to submit verified rosters for each tournament, instead of just the Series as in the past. And every year you see teams have entire tournaments disqualified because of a clerical mistake on behalf of the player or the team captain.

First off, I would strongly emphasize that it is completely on the team captain to make sure all players on a team are eligible to play college ultimate. Captains are elected to serve as leaders both on and off the field, which includes administrative duties like creating a roster for each individual tournament and the college series.

We’re going to look at a few messages that USAU post preceding your college team in the summary section of a tournament on Score Reporter:

The following teams failed the roster eligibility comparison, The following teams failed a participation eligibility comparison, The following teams failed to meet the rostering requirements for this USAU-sanctioned event?

If so, then your results for that tournament ended up counting for zilch as far as earning your conference or region a bid to the next stage of the college series. I find it immensely disappointing when college teams lose the results of an entire tournament because an administrative error that could easily be taken care of ahead of time. By doing a few simple things early in the season, you are much less likely to have a game disqualified. Consider what follows a guide for teams to avoid losing results from sanctioned tournaments during the regular season.

The following teams failed to meet the rostering requirements for this USAU-sanctioned event, and thus the results of their games will not count in the rankings

This is pretty straightforward. It means that a team failed to submit a roster prior to the Wednesday before a tournament they attended. Most tournament directors and USAU always send out multiple messages prior to the event about submitting a roster, so just do it ahead of time and you won’t have a problem.

The following teams failed the roster eligibility comparison, and thus the results of their games will not count in the rankings

This means a player on the registrar verified roster submitted for the series failed to contain a player who was on a roster for a tournament during the regular season. Similarly, it means that a player participated in a tournament and was not verified as a student by the registrar. A simple fix for this is to maintain a list of all players who are in your program. If someone attends a tournament make sure you get their name and USAU ID number and keep it in some sort of master document. Don’t rely on the USAU rostering pages to keep track of people who attend a tournament. You may make the mistake of importing a roster from February for your April tournament after you’ve made final additions to your team and leave a player off. As long as every player who attended a tournament with you is on that registrar verified roster, you won’t have results disqualified this way.

The following teams failed a participation eligibility comparison, and thus the results of their games will not count in the rankings

I have only seen this occur once (with Ohio State in the 2012 regular season), but it means a team played at a tournament with someone who was no longer eligible to compete in the college series with that school.

For the most part, it would seem like this last one should never be an issue. It should be fairly obvious if someone has played five years in college, right? Well, what you may not know is that a player’s college eligibility clock can start ticking at various points in his career depending on his participation in ultimate events and when those events occurred relative to the player’s high school graduation. Essentially, if USAU has a record of you playing in a sanctioned event (be it the college/club series or even a league of some sort), that’s the start of your clock after high school. For example, according to Ohio State, the player in question had only played two years in college, but due to some form of club or league participation post-high school in the past, his college eligibility dwindled over time. I don’t know the specifics of that particular case, but the general rule to follow is that regardless of whether or not you played ultimate in high school, you are eligible to participate in five springs of college ultimate upon your graduation.

I’m not going to go through every example, but here are a few seemingly common circumstances that could happen. If you participate at Wildwood, in the Club Series, or in a sanctioned summer league, the following spring counts as your first year of college eligibility. If you decide to go abroad after Wildwood and travel the world or if you get injured at Club Sectionals and can’t play for a year, you lose that season of college eligibility because you participated in a post-high school sanctioned event.

If you have any further questions about eligibility concerns, please refer to the college guidelines on USAU’s website:

Specifically, be sure to read the eligibility rules and FAQ:

Or feel free to post a question in the comments and I would be happy to try and help you. Be aware that you should always contact USAU directly if you have any concerns about college eligibility.

The best way to avoid any of these scenarios is to take care of these administrative details EARLY. For participation eligibility concerns, what you need to do is create your Series roster in January or February before your first tournament of the year. To do this, go to your USA Ultimate account and after opening “Online Rostering,” click on “Register as a College Regular Season team for a sanctioned event” (or similar wording). You are able to add and remove players from this roster all the way up to the Series, just like you can with tournament rosters. What’s special about this way of rostering is if a player has been a member of USA Ultimate for more than five years, a warning message will be displayed under his/her name that says “Player has been a member of USA Ultimate for more than five years. USAU will check college eligibility.” If you see this message, immediately contact USA Ultimate and have them check that player’s college eligibility. When I created my team’s roster in January last year, I had three players pop up with this message. I called USA Ultimate and was told within an hour that all three were still eligible to play in the College Regular Season and Series in 2012.

Some of you may also be questioning why USAU gives out five years instead of allowing for possibilities of redshirting or getting a year back due to injury. Well, if you think of the other major sports five years is actually pretty reasonable and in line with them. Instead of dealing with everyone on a case-by-case basis, it’s easier for everyone to just say we all get five years and leave it at that. Even in other collegiate sports, obtaining a sixth year of eligibility is incredibly rare.

Additionally, while conducting research for this article, I was put in touch with Richard Dana, USAU’s Manager of Competition & Athlete Programs. He stressed multiple times that USAU does not wish to disqualify results for teams. “We reach out to teams right away,” Dana noted. “If something comes up we contact teams and say, ‘hey, there’s this problem,’ and work with teams to try to figure out what happened. If an ineligible player is left on a tournament roster, we get in touch to see what happened. We always try to be proactive with communication as early as possible in the process before we disqualify any results. We always try to avoid disqualifying results”

Key Points

In summary, here are three key things you should do during the spring to guarantee your team’s results aren’t disqualified.

  1. Keep a master list of every player who attends a practice or tournament with your team.
  2. Create your roster for a sanctioned tournament as early as possible to ensure all players you will be bringing have paid their dues and signed their online waivers.
  3. Create your series roster in January. That way, you ensure that all your teammates are eligible to play in the college series prior to any spring tournaments and are able to add players to your team after each weekend so no player is left off your registrar verified roster.

Special thanks to Richard Dana of USA Ultimate for his help in getting information for this article.

Feature photo of Pitt at the 2012 College Championships in Boulder (Photo by Kevin Leclaire –

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