It just got a little easier to become a National Soccer Hall of Famer.
The Oneonta shrine announced Wednesday that its board of directors has dropped the percentage required for former players to earn election to the Hall, from 75 percent to 66.7.
"After much research and discussion, the board determined that the election threshold needed to change to better ensure that a recently retired player or players will be elected each year," Hall of Fame President Steve Baumann said in a statement released by the Hall on Wednesday afternoon. "The change to a lesser supermajority vote will increase the chance a player will be elected on the first-round ballot, while, at the same time, make certain there is overwhelming support for that player's election."
Should no player meet the new election percentage, the Hall will ask its selection committee to rank the top five from 5-1, with 5 representing the most deserving player. The player who receives the most points in the second round of voting will earn election to the Hall, guaranteeing that at least one player will be selected each year for the foreseeable future.
In the event of a deadlock for the most points after the second round, all of the players who tied will be elected.
The Soccer Hall's selection committee consists of all present and former coaches of the men's and women's full national teams; active Major League Soccer coaches with a minimum of four years experience as a head coach; MLS management representatives; the MLS commissioner; the U.S. Soccer secretary general; designated members of the media; and all living Hall of Famers.
The announcement comes 17 days after the 2008 Induction Ceremony, which honored no players as builder Anson Dorrance and veteran Hugo Perez highlighted an event that drew a crowd estimated at 400. The top vote-getters on the Builder and Veteran ballots earn election to the Hall as long as they receive a minimum of 50 percent. Dorrance appeared on 53.85 percent of the Builder ballots and Perez received 58.33 percent of the votes in the Veteran Election.
In 2007, former U.S. National Women's Team members Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy were inducted in front of a record crowd estimated at 5,000 that resulted in the Hall's first outdoor ceremony.
The revamped process makes it more than likely that the Hall will welcome at least two former U.S. National players in 2009 as Preki Radosavljevic and Joy Fawcett appeared on 67.97 and 67.19 percent, respectively, of the 128 ballots cast last year.
Jeff Agoos (58.59 percent), Thomas Dooley (55.47) and Marco Etcheverry (53.12) rounded out the top five in the 2008 Players Election.
The Hall stressed in its release that the percentage change would have had no effect on the results of the four Players Elections before 2008.
The Hall also announced Wednesday that it changed the waiting period for eligible players during its May meeting, from three years from the date of retirement to three calendar years following the year of retirement. Despite this change, no new players have been added to the 2009 Players Ballot.