On August 5, 2020, the NCAA Board of Governors told each of the three divisions to make their own decisions on their own fall sports relative to health and safety due to the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Within hours, Division 2 and Division 3 shut everything down, but Division 1 — you know, the one with big fancy money football involved — didn’t do that.
You can kind of understand why, given the level of football money involved, that the Division 1 schools wouldn’t be interested in immediately cancelling the national championships for fall sports. However, the NCAA did create a deadline for determining whether the Division 1 fall sports national championships would continue. That deadline is August 21st, but there’s another aspect to it. If 50% of the teams in any fall sport elect to withdraw participation from the season, then the NCAA won’t be holding a fall championship for that sport.
Well, it took perhaps a little longer than maybe it should have, but we have cleared that 50% margin.
On Thursday morning, the Big South, Southland, and WAC all called a halt to any and all fall sports competitions. That pushed men’s and women’s soccer along with women’s volleyball up over 51% of teams withdrawn from the 2020 season. The NCAA doesn’t make it very easy to figure out how many cross country teams there are, but if we’re over 50% in the three team contested sports, I feel comfortable saying that we crested 50% for men’s and women’s cross country. Friend Of The Blog Collin Sherwin did the legwork over at DraftKings Nation to figure out that field hockey has had nine of their 10 conferences cancel competition as well as FCS football having 10 of 13 conferences end their seasons.
And so there’s not going to be any fall championships for NCAA Division 1 sports.
The question is what do the remaining conferences do with their calendars. Specifically, we’re asking about the Big 12, the ACC, and the SEC. Those are the three Power Five conferences that have stated that they still plan on having a fall sports calendar, even in some sort of reduced conference-only capacity.
But what do you do with the fall sports without a national championship? Can these leagues justify having some sort of modified conference play for volleyball or what have you just because they want to? There won’t be an NCAA tournament, and when the NCAA shut down the spring championships, that immediately terminated the seasons that were already ongoing. If that same logic applies here, there’s no point in having a soccer season of any kind.
However, if you’re trying to justify playing football .... for some reason.... then you kind of need your non-football athletes to compete. After all, if it’s not safe because of the pandemic to play field hockey, then it’s probably not safe to play football, is it? But if you’re not playing field hockey but you are playing football, well, that raises a lot of questions about why exactly you’re playing football, now doesn’t it?
Anyway, as of right now, the NCAA hasn’t officially made any announcements about canceling fall championships. Quite honestly, they probably won’t make an announcement until Friday at the earliest since we only just hit the 50% trigger on Thursday morning. We’re probably looking at next week Monday — the 17th — at the earliest, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them wait until the deadline on the 21st to officially announce anything. We know the trigger has been hit, though, and we also know that Marquette and the Big East have already ended fall sports, so I guess the good news is that we’re not waiting to see what the Golden Eagles will be doing this fall.
The important thing to remember, though, is that this all could have been avoided if the United States had taken the pandemic seriously months ago.