With one of the smaller rosters among the University of Alabama spring sports and just 4.5 scholarships to use in an equivalency sport, the golf teams, both men’s and women’s, might seem to have a fairly straight path in facing the challenges presented by the NCAA decision to grant an extra year of eligibility to athletes whose 2020 season was lost to the coronavirus pandemic and response.
Instead, those programs are small-scale models that illustrate the number of complex decisions that future roster management will require.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for the players,” Seawell said on Tuesday. “The kids deserve it. We have one senior (Jake de Zoort) and he’s been a nice player for us and can come back and not count against us.”
Beyond that, though, the situation for many sports — including golf — will be less clear in 2022 and beyond.
“What the NCAA did was great but then it put everything back on the schools and we have to work out the details.” Seawell said. “I think 2021 is going to be a tremendous year for college golf. I think a lot of seniors are going to come back. They’re not certain what kind of opportunities are going to be out there for them on the developmental tours and college golf has already proven it is a good developmental tool.
“But beyond that, this is not a one-year situation.”
One example: Alabama signee Canon Claycomb signed in November 2019, came to UA as a mid-term enrollee in January and was already looking like one of the best freshmen in the nation through Alabama’s early tournaments. Now, when next season begins, Claycomb will be a freshman, eligibility-wise, once again.
“We manage our recruiting teams in five-year increments, so how do you handle a situation like that? That’s the sort of thing we have to work out, not just for Canon but for all our players, all our recruits. And there are about 300 schools playing Division I golf, so you are going to see a lot of fluidity out there.
“We love our team for next year. I think this year’s team had a chance of becoming something special. But there are a lot of decisions that will have to be made.”
Seawell, who was the head coach at Augusta (Ga.) State for four years, also has an insiders perspective on a spring (at least) without The Masters.
“They will have some difficult decisions coming up,” Seawell said when asked about the iconic event at Augusta National, which has been indefinitely postponed. “They could have the course ready in the fall, obviously. The players would come. Justin (Thomas) told me he would play if it was 25 degrees and snowing. But it wouldn’t be what we are used to seeing (in April) and Augusta National is so aware of the power of their brand. They might not want to just take a weekend in the fall and go up against Georgia football and Alabama football and everything else that will be going on.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt