Being a champion does not make everything easy.
Three months after the UCSB men’s soccer team left St. Louis with the second national title in school history, the university was denied in its quest to host either the 2008 or 2009 NCAA Men’s College Cup. The athletic department submitted its bid to the NCAA in January, headed by the efforts of Associate Athletics Director Diane O’Brien.
The winning bids were instead awarded to Dallas, Texas, and Cary, North Carolina. Dallas was able to offer Pizza Hut Park, a new stadium constructed for FC Dallas, the city’s Major League Soccer franchise. Cary has shown its ability to host events of such magnitude in the past, hosting the 2006 NCAA Women’s College Cup.
The Santa Barbara soccer program has demonstrated its ability to draw large crowds in recent years. Last year, 8,784 fans poured into Harder Stadium for the squad’s quarterfinal match against Northwestern, making it the most attended soccer game in the country last season. During the team’s first College Cup run in 2004, a crowd of 11,214 strong watched UCSB dismantle Virginia Commonwealth, 4-1.
Even more telling about the strength of Santa Barbara’s fans has been the amount of community support. The match against Northwestern came during Thanksgiving Break, decreasing the number of students in attendance. The community put down the drumsticks and came out in full force to make up for the relatively small student presence.
Despite the failure, Santa Barbara is expected to resubmit bids for both the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Men’s College Cups.