Members of the Patriot League are unlikely to play a full season this fall.
On Monday, the conference announced protocols for a fall schedule that will be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Patriot League Fall 2020 Athletics Plan will have student-athletes returning to campuses at the same time as other students; non-conference games beginning no earlier than Sept. 4; conference competition beginning at the end of September and finishing before Thanksgiving; no flying to events; only making “rare exceptions” for overnight trips; and Patriot League teams will need to confirm that non-conference opponents are following similar health and safety protocols.
The Patriot League Council of Presidents formulated the Fall 2020 Athletics Plan. Now, athletic departments will look for ways to meet and adjust to these regulations.
“The Patriot League is committed to building as robust an academic and athletic experience for our student-athletes as possible this fall,” the Patriot League’s press release said. “We thank all members of our communities for your commitment to the experience of our student-athletes, the success of our Division I Athletics programs, and the shared principles of the Patriot League.”
Related content: Bowdoin College Sitting Out Fall Sports
There are seven Patriot League schools that participate in the Football Championship Subdivision — Holy Cross, Lafayette, Bucknell, Lehigh, Colgate, Fordham and Georgetown. Each team played six conference games last year, and finished the season playing a total of 11 to 13 games.
Two 2020 non-conference football games were scheduled to occur before Sept. 4 — Stony Brook at Fordham Aug. 29 and Lehigh at Villanova Sept. 3. In order to play games later in September, the NCAA Division I Council still requires student-athletes to complete a six-week preparation period. Moreover, games like Fordham at Hawaii on Sept. 12 won’t meet the requirements for avoiding overnight trips.
Related content: Iowa Suspends Ticket Sales for 2020 Football Season
According to Sports Illustrated, Colgate, Bucknell, Fordham and Lafayette spokespeople said they are still making plans for the 2020-21 school year. SI noted the money that will be lost if games between FCS and FBS opponents are canceled, as smaller schools are paid handsomely for those games. SI also spoke with Patriot League commissioner Jennifer Heppel, who said she is “reasonably optimistic” that the conference will play fall sports.
The difficulty of bringing teams to campuses all over the country during the pandemic has been even clearer in the past week, as student-athletes at a number of schools have begun to test positive for COVID-19.
Related content: College Football COVID Testing Results All Over the Map