Forget the Foreign Players Taking Over What About All the California Players?

Richard Hunkler, Ph.D.
Water Polo Planet

A short while ago on the message board, there was a discussion of the pros and cons of having foreign players on a college team. During that discussion, only Jim Hicks took the time to present some statistics indicating just how many foreign players we were talking about. Thus, here are some more stats concerning the number of foreign players on each of the college men’s teams.

Number and percentage of foreign players on each of the college men’s teams as of the end of the 2012 season:
School Players Foreign Players % Foreign Players
Brown 17 1 5.9
Bucknell 18 2 11.1
Connecticut 16 0 0
Fordham 19 0 0
Gannon 14 1 7.1
GW 18 4 22.2
Harvard 17 0 0
Iona 22 2 9.1
JHU 22 2 9.1
MIT 17 1 5.9
Mercyhurst 25 4 16
Notre Dame 14 5 35.7
PSB 16 0 0
Princeton 22 0 0
St. Francis 16 10 62.5
Salem 9 3 33.3
Navy 35 0 0
W & J 23 0 0
School Players Foreign Players % Foreign Players
Concordia 22 5 22.7
Fresno Pacific 16 3 18.8
Lindenwood 43 3 7.0
Vanguard 18 2 11.1
School Players Foreign Players %Foreign Players
LBSU 27 6 22.2
Pacific 20 7 35
Pepperdine 29 3 10.3
SCU 41 6 14.6
Stanford 21 0 0
Cal 29 4 13.8
UC Irvine 21 2 9.5
UCLA 34 3 8.8
UCSB 29 1 3.4


School Players Foreign Players % Foreign Players
Cal Tech 13 0 0
Cal Baptist 25 1 4
Cal Luthran 19 0 0






School Players Foreign Players % Foreign Players
Chapman 27 1 3.7
CMS 18 0 0
La Verne 22 1 4.5
LMU 25 4 16
Occidental 18 0 0
Pomona 22 0 0
Redlands 25 0 0
SCU 27 0 0
UC Davis 19 0 0
UCSD 24 0 0
Air Force 29 0 0
Whittier 20 1 5

You will note that the stats are presented not just by individual schools but also by individual conferences as well. In the CWPA there is a mean = 18.9 collegiate players per team and a mean = 1.9 foreign players per team. With the Independents, there is a mean = 24.8 collegiate players per team and a mean = 3.3 foreign players per team. MPSF has a mean = 27.9 collegiate players per team and a mean = 3.6 foreign players per team. In the SCIAC there is a mean = 19 collegiate players and a mean = .3 foreign players per team. In the WWPA there is a mean = 23 collegiate players per team and a mean = .6 foreign players per team. Finally, there are approximately 1023 collegiate water polo players in this country and 88 of them are foreign players. Another way to look at this is that 1023 collegiate water polo players 8.6% are foreign players and 92.4% are US players. If you think this percentage of foreign players is high then wait until you see how many California players are playing on Eastern collegiate teams!

Before we see the stats on the number of California players playing on Eastern collegiate teams let us look at the roster size of the 46 collegiate men’s teams. Of the 46 teams, there are 20 teams with roster sizes 18 or less, there are 22 teams with roster sizes 21 or less, and there are 33 teams with roster sizes 25 or less. Thus if we would like to help achieve parity in the men’s game by placing a 25 limit size on team rosters then this would only affect 13 of the 46 teams because the other 33 collegiate teams meet a limited roster size of  25. It is interesting to note of the three largest conferences the CWPA has 17 of the 18 teams with rosters of 25 or less, the MPSF has 3 of the 9 teams with rosters of 25 or less, and the WWPA has 9 of the 12 teams with rosters of 25 or less.

Number and percentage of California players on each of the Eastern college men’s teams as of the end of the 2012 season:
School Players California Players % California Players
Brown 17 11 64.7
Bucknell 18 10 55.6
Connecticut 16 0 0
Fordham 19 10 52.6
Gannon 14 1 7.1
GW 18 10 55.6
Harvard 17 12 70.6
Iona 22 2 9.1
JHU 22 15 68.2
MIT 17 12 70.6
Mercyhurst 25 7 28
Notre Dame 14 1 7.1
PSB 16 4 25
Princeton 22 12 54.5
St. Francis 16 2 12.5
Salem 9 2 22.2
Navy 35 22 62.9
W & J 23 3 13

Eastern players and coaches read and weep because out of the 340 players on Eastern teams 136 are from California or another way to say this is 40% of the players on Eastern teams are from California. What is the matter with these numbers? I will tell you what is the matter with these numbers? It sets parity for Eastern versus California water polo back another 50 years and it adds to the West Coast mantra that water polo is and always will be a California-centric sport.  Many California players, coaches, and fans believe “California will control water polo until someone pulls the water polo ball out of their cold, dead hands? “The only team I can remember winning third place in a NCAA Men’s Championship with very few or no Californians was Queens.

All those recent NCAA thirds and fourths were not won with Eastern players but also with California Players and until Eastern teams place first, second, or third in the NCAA Championships with a majority of Eastern players will we get any respect from the California teams. (St. Francis is an exception because they placed third in this year’s NCAA Championship with 10 foreign players and 2 Californians.) Please tell me how winning games with teams that have 40% or more California players on their rosters helps men’s collegiate water polo in general and East Coast water polo in particular. At this point in time is winning more important than the survival of water polo as a National sport?

I don’t blame California for the parity mess we find ourselves in but rather I fault the Eastern coaches. When recruiting for Slippery Rock I did not actively recruit Californians; however, if a Californian contacted me I went the full ten yards and I tried to sell him or her on the school and the water polo program. One of my goals was to try to win with mostly Eastern players because until we do that there will be no parity between California and East Coast water polo. Besides many of the Californians that came to Slippery Rock were mediocre players and many of them were lacking in sound, fundamental skills. In those days most of the better California players were not leaving California.

Today there are some acceptions such as the Ivy League schools that are getting better California players because of the school’s academic programs. I think what many coaches are doing today may not be hurting their win column but it is hurting the development of water polo in the Eastern part of the country. What these coaches are doing is akin to outsourcing. Trying to place us on the same page here is a definition of outsourcing I will be using:

Definition: Outsourcing is any task, operation, job or process that could be performed by employees within an organization, but is instead contracted to a third party for a significant period of time. In addition, the functions that are performed by the third party can be performed on-site or off-site.

What the coaches are doing is condoning the outsourcing of Eastern water polo players with California water polo players. At this point in time outsourcing is not good for this country nor is it good for Eastern water polo. You say the California players are making our Eastern water polo players better? That might be true if we were getting mostly the top tier California players but this is not always the case and to say that most of these players we are getting know more than the top Eastern players and/or coaches is a myth.

Before I finish this commentary I would like to give the following Eastern water polo programs who are trying to win with three or less California players, kudos, two thumbs up, and pats on the back to: Connecticut College, Gannon University, Iona College, Notre Dame College, Penn State Behrend College, Salem University, Washington & Jefferson College, and St. Francis College.