I offer sports schedules to college conferences in any division in the NCAA, NAIA, and any other governing body.
A benefit to having a schedule generated by a computer is that for a reasonable fee, the headache of putting a schedule together by hand can be avoided. In addition to saving work, the quality of a schedule generated by a computer is likely to be better than one produced manually. There are several things a computer can do to improve the quality of a schedule including minimizing distance traveled on weekdays, and minimizing the number of home games or road games played consecutively. Those benefits and others are discussed in more detail below.
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For sports that meet on weekdays as well as weekends, I can produce schedules that minimize the amount of missed class time. Doing that by hand can be difficult. It's not as easy as just picking the closest schools to play on weekdays - choosing one short travel pair to play on a weekday may prevent another short travel pair from playing on a weekday due to the interconnected nature of those decisions. However, a computer is capable of analyzing all possible decisions and selecting the best solution in terms of which results in the least overall travel on weekdays.
Some schedules involve travel to two different venues before returning home. In such cases, it is desirable to minimize travel time between those two venues. A computer can select the best pairs of venues each weekend with that goal in mind.
In sports scheduling literature a break is said to occur when a team plays consecutive matches at home or consecutive matches on the road. Breaks are generally regarded as undesirable by coaches and players.
There are essentially three strategies in sports scheduling for reducing the impact of breaks, listed in order of increasing difficulty for a computer to process: The first strategy is to restrict the potential length of the breaks without regard for the total number of breaks. The second strategy is to minimize the number of breaks overall. The third strategy is to minimize the number of breaks with the caveat that each team has an equal number of them.
For conferences with and odd number of teams, the bye games can enable a schedule with no breaks at all, provided that the other parameters allow for it.
There are a variety of reasons to combine multiple schedules into one model. One, a conference may choose to have men and women play at opposite sites on weekdays but then have double headers on the weekends such as for basketball. Both the men's and women’s schedules have to be built simultaneously in that case. Two, schools may wish to save gas by sharing one bus between two teams in which case the schedules for two different sports are created together. Three, there may be schools in the conference with limited facilities requiring different sports to meet on different days. In that case, a solution is to schedule the potentially conflicting sports together.
Fairness Concerning Byes
When a team plays an opponent who has previously had a bye, that opponents is often regarded as having an advantage for that match. For schedules with byes, a certain number of matches will necessarily involve that inequality. However, it would be unfair for one team to play more than its share of rested opponents. My clients sometimes request that I limit the number of times any given team has such a match, and often, it is possible to restrict that number to one per half.
Time Relaxed Schedules
Generally, schedules for college conferences are time constrained, meaning that all of the dates in the schedule are utilized by every team, with the exception of a bye per round for conferences with an odd number of teams. Occasionally, however, a schedule is time relaxed, which has the opposite meaning - that each team has multiple byes per round. Time relaxed schedules require a somewhat different technique than time constrained schedules. I know that technique so I am able to offer both kinds of schedules.
Other parameters may specify particular dates for rivalry matches, particular dates for home or away games, or any other details that you are accustomed to incorporating into your schedules. Ask about your specific needs.