Opponents believe that Project-40 will gut top-level college soccer and fear that the program will lead many players to a dead end. "Down the line it could be good for the national team, but a lot of these kids aren't going to make it as pros," says University of Washington coach Dean Wurzberger. Some opponents are concerned that players who go to college and then try to pursue a pro career will be given less of a chance than the Project-40 players. Gulati concedes that his league will likely treat a nonproject player as the equivalent of "a walk-on compared to a scholarship athlete, simply because we will have invested money in one player and not the other."
Project-40 supporters argue that the program is the U.S.'s best hope for catching up to the world's soccer powers and that it will not be a death knell for the college game. "Ninety-nine percent of college soccer players aren't right for this program," says D.C. United coach Bruce Arena, a former coach at the University of Virginia.
And don't assume that all the top players will jump at the chance to be part of Project-40. Josh Wolff, a forward on the U.S. under-20 team, has already committed to returning to the University of South Carolina, where he will be a sophomore next fall. "When it comes down to it," says Wolff, "are you really willing to give up four years of scholarship—which is worth $70,000 or so—just to be given the chance to earn $20,000 a year and maybe not make it as a pro?"
Last spring, in suggesting opponents that the Division III Rutgers-Camden men's basketball team might schedule in hope of ending its NCAA-record 108-game losing streak (SCORECARD, April 1, 1996), we nominated California Maritime Academy from Vallejo, Calif., as a possible patsy. The NAIA Division II Keelhaulers qualified for our list in part because their nine-win 1995-96 season had included six victories over two hapless bible colleges. But we are happy to report that this season, under the guidance of new coach Dan Dion, California Maritime has reversed course and at week's end had won its first 13 games by an average of 25 points. And only three of those victories came against a bible college.
As for Rutgers-Camden, well, the Pioneers have opened the season with eight straight losses.