USAU Club Guidelines Announced: More Flexibility, Nationals Bid Allocation Set

Jeff Babbitt and Joe White battle at the 2019 Club Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford --
Jeff Babbitt and Joe White battle at the 2019 Club Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford —

Late last week, USA Ultimate announced the 2021 Club Division Guidelines, which establish the rules for the upcoming summer club season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are substantial changes coming to the 2021 season. Below is a look at the major takeaways from the guidelines.

Increased Flexibility: No Tournament Requirements, No Rankings

Unlike in a typical season, there will be no required tournament attendance for Pro or Elite teams, and the entire regular season is significantly more flexible this year.

“The main goal is to give people great, safe playing opportunities,” said USAU Club Manager Carolina Gonzalez-Llanos. “We want to make sure players can play when and where they can, safely.”

As a result, there will be no official USAU rankings this year, which typically determine the bids available to Regionals and Nationals.

Nationals Strength Bids to be Determined by Past Performance

Each of the eight regions will receive an automatic bid to Nationals, as in a normal season, but this year’s strength bids will be determined by using a three-year weighted average of the bids earned by regions from 2017-2019, the previous three club seasons.1

That means that this year’s Nationals bid allocation has already been determined:

Great Lakes112
North Central121
South Central221

Unlike in the College Division, the Club Division will not feature any size bids to Nationals, although Regionals bids will be allocated based on the size of each Sectionals tournament.

Players Can Play for Different Teams During the Regular Season

In a normal club regular season, players can play for different teams provided that they don’t return to a previous team after competing with another one later in the season. In 2021, however, this rule will be further relaxed, allowing players to freely compete with any team at any time during the regular season. There are no roster maximums this year during the regular season.

During the postseason, though, players can only be on one roster, and there is a 26 person roster maximum (and a 10 person minimum). In the mixed division, rosters must include at least five man-matching and five woman-matching players.

World Games Eligibility Requirements

As in past cycles, players will be required to compete in the College or Club Series in both the season prior to the World Games (2021) and the season in the year in which it takes place (2022) in order to be eligible for selection to the USA National Team.

Players will also be required to have been selected to the 2020 WUGC USA National Teams to be eligible to try out for the World Games roster.

Exceptions to the above rules — say, for players who were injured for the 2020 US National Team tryouts or are opting not to participate in this year’s club season due to COVID concerns — can be granted by the Competition Working Group. “We’ll be open to people putting in any sort of exception request, and those will be taken on a case-by-case basis,” said Gonzalez-Llanos.

WUCC Qualification Not Yet Announced

The qualification process for the 2022 World Ultimate Club Championships has not yet been determined.

“With the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 USA Ultimate club season, which typically dictates the order in which club teams are awarded these bids, the Club Competition Working Group is currently discussing how best to award bids to teams that will represent the United States at WUCC. More information on that process will be forthcoming,” read the guidelines. Typically, the top finishing teams at the National Championships are awarded bids to WUCC.

Gonzalez-Llanos said that the rules will be established and announced before the start of the season in June.

Next Update: May 21st

Currently, the regular season is set to begin on June 5th, and the first Triple Crown Tour event — the Pro-Elite Challenge — is scheduled for July 10-11 in Colorado. The decision about whether or not to move forward with that timeline will be announced on May 21st.

If, at that point, there is a decision to push back the season, the start of the regular season would be delayed by a month. TCT events would be confirmed no later than six weeks before the start of each event.

  1. The weighting is 50% for 2019, 35% for 2018, and 15% for 2017. 

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld.You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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