[Updated for 2018 Uniform Requirements on October, 26, 2017]
7.a.iv.g. USA Ultimate reserves the right to disqualify and/or fine
players who fail to meet the uniform requirements.
Has any other sentence about college ultimate uniforms caused captains more worry? We don’t think so.
The sentence above was taken from the 2018 College Guidelines, a 22-page whale of an outline that encompasses every regulation for the entire college season, from the rankings algorithm to team names to observers.
Captains often ask us if the jerseys they've designed are line with the requirements of the College Guidelines, and it's easy to see why they aren't always certain. The stakes are extremely high, and the language of the guidelines leaves room for interpretation.
Lucky for you, we've done the hard work of decoding the language of the college uniform requirements. If you stick with us, we'll guarantee that your jerseys don't get you disqualified.
Read on intrepid captain, and learn how to design uniforms that stay on USA Ultimate's good side!
Can you make the Regional Finals?
This question is the heart of the matter, and all of the questions around the college uniform requirements hinge upon the answer.
If there is even the slightest chance that you’ll make the Regional final this year*, we recommend** that you design your uniforms to comply with the Championship-level requirements listed below.
If you have a shot at making the Regional finals, then USA Ultimate has more uniform requirements for you.
The guidelines themselves are full of baroque language that makes them a bit hard to navigate, but we've worked with Tom to get at the most important pieces:
You must have two jerseys. One white, and one dark.
Jerseys must have numbers on both the back and the front.
Front numbers ≥ 4” tall
Back numbers ≥ 6” tall
All numbers must be one- or two-digit Arabic numerals (no weird symbols like ∞ or 𝜋), and must be high enough on the jersey that they’re visible if you tuck your shirt in. Sleeve numbers don’t count.
No two players can have the same number, but otherwise your team's jerseys should match exactly.
Your team's shorts must match exactly, but aren’t required to have any printing or numbers. If you do decide to have numbers on your shorts, they must be on the front ≥ 2” tall.
Use this simple list, and we guarantee you’ll be covered for all games in the USA Ultimate College Series up to semi-finals of one of the championship events.
On the off chance that you do make it to semis of DIII College Ultimate Championships or the College Ultimate National Championships, USA Ultimate will likely ask you to match your teammates' gear even more closely. You may be required to coordinate things like hats, compression gear, and even socks.
These extra requirements seem like an annoying inconvenience, but they exist to make you look better on ESPN. Who can argue with wanting to look good on TV?
If you won't make the Regional final this year, you have very few restrictions on your uniforms. It is recommended that your uniforms comply with the all of the other guidelines listed above, but it is not required.
The requirements for lower-level play in the college series can be summed up as "Grandma's Rule".
Grandma's Rule is quite simple: if your grandma wouldn’t approve of your jerseys, USA Ultimate probably won’t like them either. That means no drug or sexual references, no racial slurs, and nothing that is patently offensive.
It's a pretty easy bar to hit, right? That's by design: USA Ultimate wants it to be easy for new college teams to be formed and to compete in the College Series!
*Actually, if you can make finals of Regionals, you should probably be applying for a Five Ultimate sponsorship, but that’s a post for another time.
** This is our own recommendation as the safest bet for a team that has the chance of going the distance, and making the Regional final. The actual USA Ultimate guidelines have a bit more nuance. If you want to understand the letter of the law, you can either peruse the guidelines themselves, read USAU’s Uniform FAQ, or email us with specific questions.
Over to you
What did we miss? What was confusing? Let us know and we'll augment this post for clarity as questions arise!