College Nationals Bids Change Hands in Surprise Shifts Due to Dropped Game Results

UNC Charlotte men, UT Dallas women grab bids for their regions after having games excluded from the rankings due to roster issues

Cal Ursa Major at 2022 Conferences. Photo: Rodney Chen —

Every season, hundreds of college division regular season scores are excluded from the official USA Ultimate rankings at the end of the season due to teams competing with ineligible players or failing to submit rosters. In some cases, teams have even been disqualified from the postseason: Tulane was famously dropped from Nationals after competing with an academically ineligible player that forged documentation sent to USA Ultimate back in 2015.

For the first time this year, teams have earned a bid to Nationals for their region after having a large number of games dropped from the rankings for competing with an ineligible player.

UNC Charlotte was projected to finish at #24 in the final USAU D-I Men’s College rankings, according to Cody Mills’, which simulates the USAU rankings each week. But the team jumped up seven spots in the official rankings that were released this week after having the results from their first two tournaments of their season — Carolina Kickoff and Queen City Tune Up — dropped from consideration. That meant that UNCC was the final team to earn a bid, snaring a coveted second bid for the Atlantic Coast after BYU opted not to compete at Conferences and didn’t get their roster verified, dropping them from the rankings entirely.

One UNCC player — Kevin Zhang — was listed on the team’s roster for both Kickoff and QCTU but was no longer rostered at Easterns Qualifier or Needle in a Ho Stack, the two events that counted towards UNCC’s 9-1 record in the final rankings.1 Ultiworld was unable to get in contact with UNCC prior to the publication of this article.

With six of their seven losses on the season dropped from consideration, UNCC leapfrogged California, who appeared to have done enough to claim a fourth bid for the Southwest region after going 5-2 at Easterns on the final weekend of the regular season. Cal has posted on social media expressing frustration.

“We have concerns about the recently released USAU bid allocations for the College Division that we would like to see the USAU Board of Directors address,” the Cal captains wrote on Reddit’s r/ultimate. “The released rankings and bid allocations are considerably different than expected due to large amounts of games being thrown out across the college division. We have been attempting to contact USAU in order to get some transparency on the thrown out games to no avail. We have tried to contact USAU through many different channels from email to phone call to replying to Twitter and Instagram posts all with no response. Cal finds ourselves in the heart-wrenching position where we worked our whole season to earn a strength bid for our region just to have it essentially ‘disappear’ with little to no explanation. As lifelong players under USAU we want and expect more transparency from the organizers of the sport we all love.”

While somewhat more game data was excluded this year than in past seasons, it was not a dramatic increase. Dozens of college teams have tournament data dropped every year (2023 was the first year with official rankings since 2019). The full list of dropped team and tournament data is available in this spreadsheet provided by USA Ultimate.

In the Reddit comments, the new USAU Board President Dave Klink responded to Cal. “USA Ultimate staff are aware of the concerns which have been circulating on social media, they are reading their emails (to the extent they can keep up – more on that below), and they are working on getting out some information and responding to inquiries, while juggling many other responsibilities related to the college series,” he wrote. “Please note that with 70 conference events happening this coming weekend, there is a great deal of work being done by staff (and the volunteers who work with them to run the series) to prepare for those events, and keeping up with emails alone is more than a full-time job. While staff is working on responding to your inquiry and other similar inquiries, please note that there may be some delays in response times.

“..For those who are calling for transparency in the process and the chance to appeal, I hear you, and I know staff hears you. I can’t speak to the specifics of the issues at this time (for reasons discussed above), but I do understand the urgency of those inquiries. As discussed above staff have more priorities this week than time to address them, and an insufficient number of hours in the day (and night) to get everything done immediately, and so it will take some time to accomplish everything which they hope to accomplish this week.”

USA Ultimate currently does not have a Manager of College Competition after Ben Feng left the organization earlier this year. Former USAU staffer Matthew Bourland is helping fill the role on an interim basis.

In the women’s division, the University of Texas-Dallas finished six spots higher than projected after having their first tournament of the season, Antifreeze, discarded. That earned the South Central a third bid (alongside Colorado and Colorado State) and pushed out Western Washington, who appeared set to claim a fifth bid for the Northwest.

A number of teams have been fully dropped from the rankings for various reasons. The BYU men’s team did not have their roster validated in time, and the BYU women’s team was left out of the official rankings for clarity because they decided not to compete at Conferences, according to USA Ultimate. Their game data is still being used in the rankings. Other teams, like Purdue men’s, had games dropped from the rankings, leaving them without the minimum 10 games to be included in the rankings. That could affect the bid allocation from Conferences to Regionals around the country.

Many college division participants have noted that UNC Charlotte is being rewarded with a bid for the Atlantic Coast despite ostensibly being punished by having game results discarded. Some have already been discussing potential solutions, like requiring a higher minimum number of games for teams that have game data dropped due to roster issues.

In the past, USA Ultimate released a public list of games set to be discarded and gave teams an opportunity to correct errors or appeal. This year, that review period was not in place. The public list of discarded tournaments was released today. The final rankings have always seen some shifts due to the discarded game data at the end of the season but never with such a dramatic impact on the final bid allocation.

Here are the official bid allocations from Regionals to Nationals announced by USA Ultimate today:

D-I Men’s

D-I Men’s 2023 Bid Allocation

D-I Women’s

D-I Women’s 2023 Bid Allocation

D-III Men’s

D-III Men’s 2023 Bid Allocation

D-III Women’s

D-III Women’s 2023 Bid Allocation

  1. They had one Needle in a Ho Stack game — vs. Georgia College — dropped due to a GC roster issue. 

  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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