How NCAA men's water polo works
The GIST: At the collegiate level, men’s water polo is nearly identical to the women’s game, right down to the legacy teams and the California dominance. There are 28 DI, eight DII, and 16 DIII programs nationwide, and again, the majority reside in the Golden State.
The differences: While the gals’ game is a spring sport, the guys beat eggs in the fall. Their ball is slightly bigger, and they don’t have to worry about “exposure fouls” — 20-second exclusions (think hockey’s penalty box) that gals earn by grabbing another player’s suit and causing a nip slip. Otherwise, the rules are generally the same.
The powerhouses: The men’s game has a much longer history than the women’s, so their lack of parity is even more astounding: Only seven schools have won the DI natty since the first trophy in 1969. Two-time defending champ Cal leads all programs with 16 titles, followed by UCLA (12), Stanford (11), USC (10), UC Irvine (3), and Pepperdine and UCSB with one apiece.
- The men’s national team roster is similarly concentrated — 18 of the 22 athletes play or formerly played for Cal, UCLA, Stanford, or USC.