In early June, the Big East announced that the league would shift to a regional divisions system for league play in their fall sports. We talked about that at length when it happened, so go check that out if you need the details or even just a refresher.
At the time of that announcement, Marquette had not announced any fall sports schedules. That’s not completely surprising, as MU had announced their soccer and volleyball schedules in early June a year ago. However, it has been a month and there still has not been an announcement of any schedules, either from Marquette or the Big East. That’s kind of a problem, seeing as there was only about two months of time between the conference announcement and when those teams would be arriving on campus if this were a normally functioning school year, and now we’re down to just one month left to go.
The fact that this is anything but a normally functioning school year thanks to the ongoing and apparently worsening coronavirus pandemic has been drawn into sharp relief over the past few days. As I write this, two NCAA Division 1 conferences have announced alterations to their sports schedules for the 2020-21 school year. This is clearly not going to stop any time soon, so it seems like a good idea to start tracking how much changes before we hear something from either the Marquette athletic department or the Big East front office.
It should be noted that we are only tracking official announcements here. As of this writing, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach has reporting that more conferences are making similar plans. Until there’s a press release with a finalized plan, we’re not going to put it on this list.
Wednesday, July 8: The Ivy League cancels all fall sports and halts all intercollegiate athletics until the conclusion of the fall semester. In addition to withdrawing the Ivy League from soccer and volleyball, this also ends any non-conference basketball games that the teams in that conference might have scheduled. We don’t know if MU had any fall sports matches planned against Ivy League teams, nor do we know if women’s basketball had an Ivy squad lined up. The men’s basketball non-conference schedule was made public, and it does not have any Ivy League teams on it.
Thursday, July 9: The Big Ten announces that if fall sports are played, they will only be playing a conference schedule. This effectively cancels what had been yearly matches against Wisconsin for Marquette in women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, and men’s soccer. Of course, since MU never announced a schedule, we don’t know for sure that those were on the books for fall 2020, but again, they had been on the docket for the past few years. Wisconsin/Marquette in volleyball is of particular note, as the Badgers could be expected to be a high quality team again and MU needs high quality non-conference opponents. It stands to reason that at least one of MU’s three team sports would have been playing at least one more match against a Big Ten foe at some point beyond just the Badgers.
Thursday, July 9: The ACC announced that competition in fall Olympic sports — aka men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball — have been delayed until September 1st. That means they’re still expecting to have a season of some kind, but this allows, in their words, “each campus to further focus on ensuring return to competition protocols are in place to facilitate the resocialization process.” This obviously cancels a couple of weeks of matches and meets, but each ACC school will be in charge of their own rescheduling process. I’ll tell you right now: If North Carolina volleyball just got yanked out of an opening weekend invitational, it’s not getting rescheduled.
Friday, July 10: The Pac-12 announced that, like the Big Ten, if they have a fall sports schedule, they will be limiting themselves to conference opponents only. Here’s the important wording about the “if” there:
The CEO Group made clear that it hopes to play football and all other fall sports provided that it can meet the health and safety needs of its student-athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.
The league said it’s for “some” fall sports, but they specifically listed football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The last three are the ones that we’re notably concerned with here. As always, we don’t know what matches Marquette did or did not have scheduled. However, women’s soccer has often times scheduled a trip to the West Coast that involved at least one Pac-12 opponent in the past. The Pac-12 is a strong women’s volleyball conference, and MU has played USC Trojans a number of times in the past several seasons. I feel it’s safe to say that at least one of the three fall team sports lost a match as a result of this step by the Pac-12.
Monday, July 13: The Patriot League announced that they have cancelled all fall sports competitions. Well, mostly. Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen are both part of the PL for sports that aren’t football, and the PL has granted the two academies leave to compete as they see fit. The PL also said that decisions about winter and spring sports will be made at a later date, as well as leaving open the possibility of fall sports running a season of competition in the spring semester. As far as Marquette goes, I don’t know what kind of impact this has on potentially scheduled games. It’s not like there’s a regular Big East/Patriot League crossover, and with the PL located exclusively on the East Coast, they aren’t obvious non-conference options for the Golden Eagles. It is worth noting that two conferences have now completely withdrawn from the 2020 NCAA championships in all fall sports.
Monday, July 13: Hampton University cancelled all fall sports. They left the door open for athletic contests in the spring semester, but the use of the words “if conditions permit” should tell you an awful lot there. It also appears that they will not be having their winter sports start up during the fall based on the wording here. Hampton is a member of the Big South, so it remains to be seen what that league will do here. Hampton does not sponsor men’s soccer, but they do sponsor women’s soccer and women’s volleyball in terms of how this may or may not impact Marquette.
Tuesday, July 14: The SEC follows the ACC’s lead and dumps all soccer, volleyball, and cross country competitions between now and August 31st. It’s pretty much the same press release as the ACC’s: safe return, rescheduling by each school, monitoring developments, etc. That brings the total to six conferences that will not be playing non-conference contests during the month of August for one reason or another. Without having any idea what MU’s schedules were supposed to look like, we are clearly veering closer and closer to Marquette not having any non-conference competition at all in the month of August.
Tuesday, July 14: Marquette made an evening announcement not long before TBT’s title game began. Because of rising number of coronavirus cases in the Milwaukee area, the start of voluntary workouts allowed by the NCAA are delayed indefinitely. All facilities remain closed to student-athletes, which even includes the very obviously outdoor Valley Fields. The athletic department also noted that “a majority” of student-athletes in Milwaukee have opted to return home. This is particularly notable, as a number of both men’s and women’s basketball players had just arrived on campus at the start of the month. It’s unclear who has and has not returned home based on the statement, but it’s definitely not a good sign for fall sports in terms of using the MU facilities in about three weeks’ time for the start of practices.