The No. 1 Gymnastics Podcast in the Galaxy

65: NCAA Judge Dean Ratliff, Early Recruiting & Saving Temple Men’s Gymnastics

judge dean ratliff, ncaa jill hicks, temple men's coach

Temple University Men’s Gymnastics Coach, Fred Turoff (left). NCAA Judge, Dean Ratliff (top). NCAA recruiting expert, Jill Hicks.


This Week's Interview

An all interview show with three NCAA guests! First we talk to NCAA Judge Dean Ratliff. We discuss:

  • How judges are reviewed, assigned and favoritism curtailed in the NCAA.
  • The weirdest and wildest things Dean has seen during his 28 years of judging high school and NCAA meets.
  • How judges are assigned to judge NCAA gymnastics meets.
  • The continual, meteoric rise in scores from the top 36 college gymnastics teams.
  • How much Jessica thinks puppy-mill-style-factory-farm-mega-meets suck for judges, parents and kids.
  • What Dean thinks of Jessica’s genius idea that judges should score live on an iPad and give the audience (the fans!) access to the scoring sheets after each routine.
  • How judges address accusations of bias bias bias and more bias.

Next up is former US national team member, occasional USAG selection committee member and long-time coach of the Temple University Owls, Fred Turoff. Last week, the Philadelphia institution announced they were dropping seven of their 24 sports, including men’s gymnastics.  Coach Turoff told us the despicable details including:

  • The way Temple University told student athletes that their sports were being dropped the Friday before finals week.
  • The impact Temple’s disappearance could have on all of men’s gymnastics, NCAA gymnastics and by extension Team USA.
  • How the committee who made the cuts met in secret over months to avoid allowing the coaches to appeal to the Board of Trustees, which they had done successfully in 1994 when the program was threatened.
  • What you can do to help the program survive.

Next we talk with, NCAA recruiting expert, Jill Hicks. She did a survey of coaches to find out what they thought about the scourge that is early recruiting. We discuss:

  • If early recruiting can be stopped
  • Advice for recruits and their parents on how to avoid being pressured into committing early.
  • The best way for coaches and gym owners to get their gymnasts recruited
  • The new sport that is recruiting gymnasts for college scholarships (It’s not cheerleading! Sheesh. Do you seriously think we’d talk about it, if it was? Come on people.

The episode also features the greatest Gymnastics Myth Busters in the history of the show! We find out if these statements are true or false:

  • There was a gymnast-streaker at an NCAA championships.
  • It is possible to accidentally hang upside down by a jock strap from high bar.
  • Make-up, facial jewelry, mohawks and painted nails are prohibited.
  • Judges can take artistry and vulgarity deductions.
  • Judges can stop a gymnast from performing a skill that is too dangerous.
  • Olympians and gymnasts from the top teams, receive “status” bonuses.

Guest Links

Contact Fred Turoff to find out what you can do to help save the men’s gymnastics program.

Here is our ranking of gymnastics schools with the best recruiting pages for their gymnasts:

  1. Wildfire
  2. Olympus (includes GPA’s for each athlete)
  3. Illinois Gymnastics Institute

College scholarships opportunities for gymnasts in the sport of Tumbling & Acrobatics, governed by the NCATA. They get to wear cool uniforms like the University of Oregon team.

Judge Ratliff is the Technical Director of the National High School Gymnastics Association. Find out about the Senior Showcase Invitational in Florida here.

Jill Hicks, NCAA gymnastics recruiting consultant can be reached here

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NCAA parent
NCAA parent
10 years ago

What a GREAT interview with Judge Ratliff! You asked so many questions that are things I have always wondered about –and I love how forthcoming he was and clear in his explanations. Really enjoyed it, thanks for a fun listen.

10 years ago

This was a great episode! It’s great to get so much insight into judging and recruiting. I love learning more about the sport from these podcasts.

I just have one little beef. There is a lot of crossover between gymnastics and cheerleading. Many guys and girls do both. Both are great sports. Cheerleading uniforms are not slutty. It is no more revealing to wear a skirt with bloomers than it is to wear a leotard; they are both just uniforms that are conventionally worn for that sport and that happen to reveal a lot of the body. Revealing a lot of the body is not the same as being slutty. It is a perfectly appropriate for gymnasts to seek cheerleading scholarships if they choose not to continue gymnastics or are unable to get a college scholarship, and a great opportunity. I think that we should support young female athletes regardless of where they find opportunities to compete, and not suggest that some of opportunities are less legitimate than others.

leo byrd
leo byrd
8 years ago

At NCAA finals were you watching the crowd or the floor?

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