Although it went undefeated in the Ultimate Players Association (UPA) sectional and regional tournaments, the UCSB Black Tide men’s ultimate Frisbee team will not be making the trip to the Ultimate College National Championship in Seattle this weekend as was previously planned.
On May 14th the UPA Conduct Committee disqualified the Black Tide from nationals, keeping them from the tournament for the second-straight year. This is the first time in its 20-year history that the Black Tide has stayed home from nationals in consecutive years.
The disqualification came as a result of a Black Tide player being deemed ineligible to play on a college ultimate team. Like the NCAA eligibility requirements, the UPA college division has limits on the number of years a student is eligible to play in college. The Black Tide player in question was found to have exceeded his five years of college eligibility.
According to UPA Eligibility Rule II.D, “not more than five years must have elapsed between the players initial membership in a national ultimate governing body or initial participation in a national ultimate championship series.”
The National College Director and the Championship Director of the UPA found that the player had first paid UPA membership and appeared on a collegiate ultimate team roster in 1997.
The disqualification came as a nasty surprise for the Black Tide, which went 10-0 in the sectional and regional tournaments on its way to nationals.
“Our team definitely wasn’t aware,” Black Tide co-captain senior Jonathan Hester said. “The disqualified player apparently didn’t know either that he was on the rosters [dating back to 1997].”
Hester said the Black Tide was given approximately six hours to file an appeal on May 14th when the UPA contacted Hester and co-captain Nathan Bouxsein.
The team decided to appeal the decision on the grounds that the player did not play in sectionals or regionals and had no knowledge of being on the team roster in the years that would make him ineligible.
“I told them that they at least had to give us a chance to clarify,” Hester said. “We put the appeal all in the hands of the disqualified player.”
The UPA Conduct Committee denied the appeal that same night in an effort to make a speedy decision with nationals quickly approaching.
Up until this point, the Black Tide had been having a very successful season. The UPA last ranked the Black Tide #13 in the nation with its 28-13 overall record. Consequently, the team took a big hit when the decision came down from the committee.
“It’s kind of like we’ve been robbed of the national championship,” senior Tim Henshaw-Plath said. “We won regionals, which we don’t usually do, and no one else expected us to win the championship but now we don’t even have the chance.”
With nationals taking place this weekend, the Black Tide is feeling the void left by the disqualification, but is looking to overcome the obstacle. The Gauchos will say goodbye to their seniors and play pick-up games in the coming weeks, Hester said.
“Teams better watch out for us,” Henshaw-Plath said. “Next year we’re going to be pretty good.”
Missing the 1995 nationals sparked the Black Tide to a three-year national championship run; taking the title in 1996, 1997 and 1998.