By Jess Westendorf
As some Iowa men’s basketball players get ready to be “drafted” by the Prime Time summer league tonight, Iowa’s women basketball players won’t have that opportunity.
Game Time Director Randy Larson announced that because of changes in NCAA regulations, he would not organize a women’s basketball league this summer.
It will be the first time in 16 years that Iowa women’s basketball players will not be able to give fans a glimpse of any incoming players or what the upcoming season could be like.
“It is very difficult to find enough players of college-level ability to make the league competitive enough for the Iowa players,” Larson said on the website.
One NCAA change that influenced the decision is considering incoming players as already part of the team.
Going forward, an incoming player counts as one of two women from Iowa on the same team.
Had the league continued this year, Game Time would have needed seven or eight teams to spread the Iowa players out. In contrast, last summer’s league had six teams.
Ally Disterhoft drives past Kathleen Doyle during a Game Time basketball game in the North Liberty Community Center on July 13, 2016. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)
Larson also posted a heartfelt message thanking the players and fans who attended in previous years.
“Thanks to Lisa Bluder for letting me do it, to all who attended, for your appreciation, and especially to the young women who played and made this old coach smile with their effort and love of the game,” Larson said.
On the other hand, Larson will continue to organize the men’s basketball Prime Time League.
Tryouts were held on June 10, with the draft scheduled for tonight. The first game is set for June 18.
Larson noted that a rule change in NCAA Division 1 now allows college coaches to have better contact with their players. When the league was first formed, this was not the case and ultimately altered the need for the league.
In the past, Game Time has had trouble finding single players to participate in the summer league, because more small colleges and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools are finding it beneficial to play in summer leagues as a team instead of splitting up the players.
St. Ambrose is one program that consistently had players drafted by Game Time teams over the past few years, but they have started playing together in a similar summer league hosted by Kirkwood Community College as a team.
This is because the NCAA allows small-college teams to continue to play as a team instead of forcing players to divide up.
Iowa was one of the only Division 1 programs to participate in the summer league last year.
Players from Truman State, a Division 2 school, Simpson, a Division 3 school, and high-school players from Muscatine and Iowa City West played alongside Hawkeye players.
Looking back on the 2016 summer league, Iowa had players in the No. 1 spot in points, rebounds, and assists.
Hawkeye senior standout Ally Disterhoft led the league with a 37-point average, and sophomore Megan Gustafson was right behind her with a 36.5 average.