Los Angeles Soccer: UNLV

COLLEGE: UC Irvine robbed by RPI

November, 15, 2010
George Kuntz remembered what happened in 2006, when his UC Irvine men's soccer team was 13-4-3 and ready to accept its first invitation to the NCAA tournament. The Anteaters were snubbed.

So, mindful of that, he chose to gather his team for Monday's NCAA Division I announcement in a quiet room on campus -- “just in case” -- rather than with well-wishers at the sports-themed restaurant across the street.

There were a lot of broken hearts in that room.

“Absolutely,” Kuntz said, his voice barely above a whisper, not long after the four 12-team brackets streamed across ESPNU. “It's something we won't forget. … This is probably as deep a disappointment as [we've ever had].”

The NCAA's soccer committees have made some frightful decisions over the years, especially in seeding its women's tournament, but it's hard to imagine a poorer one than the omission of this year's UC Irvine side from the field.

The Anteaters (14-3-3) won the Big West Conference regular-season title, were ranked No. 1 in the West Regional rankings most of the season and were in the national top 10 for the final six weeks of the regular season.

But blame for this should go primarily to the process, in particular the NCAA's over-reliance on a heavily flawed tool: Ratings Performance Index, or RPI.

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