Both NCAA Division II and Division III have canceled fall sports championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decisions come after new directives put forth by the NCAA Board of Governors on Wednesday, which require schools and conferences to meet specific benchmarks in order to conduct those events.
“The board expressed serious concerns about the continuing high levels of COVID-19 infection in many parts of the nation,” reads a NCAA release announcing the board of governors directions. “The board has determined that it will only support moving forward with fall championships and other postseason play if strict conditions are applied and adhered to.”
That prompted the Presidents Councils of both Division II and DIvision III to quickly cancel championships for fall sports.
“Looking at the health and safety challenges we face this fall during this unprecedented time, we had to make this tough decision to cancel championships for fall sports this academic year in the best interest of our student-athlete and member institutions,” said Tori Murden McClure, chair of the Division III Presidents Council in a release. “Our Championships Committee reviewed the financial and logistical ramifications if Division III fall sports championships were conducted in the spring and found it was logistically untenable and financially prohibitive. Our Management Council reached the same conclusion. Moving forward, we will try to maximize the championships experience for our winter and spring sport student-athletes, who unfortunately were short-changed last academic year.”
The Division II Presidents Council followed suit with a similar announcement shortly after the D-III announcement.
“After reviewing and discussing the Board of Governors’ directives, the Division II Presidents Council made the difficult decision that holding fall championships in any capacity was not a viable or fiscally responsible option for Division II,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the council. “This decision was discussed very thoroughly, and I assure you, it was not made lightly. It is important to note that fall student-athletes will be given eligibility-related flexibility to allow them championship opportunities in the future. As we move forward, we will continue to focus on providing the best championships experience for our winter and spring student-athletes who were not afforded those opportunities at the beginning of this pandemic.”
Among the requirements set forth by the board of governors is the ability to adhere to the NCAA Sport Science Institute’s Resocialization of College Sport plan for returning to athletic activity. A number of other requirements present hurdles to returning to play — including requiring member schools to adhere to government guidelines related to COVID-19. The full list of requirements can be viewed here.
The board gave the divisions a deadline of Aug. 21 to decide whether to conduct fall sports and the remaining championships.
“The first and most important consideration is whether sports can be conducted safely for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and University of California system president. “Each division must examine whether it has the resources available to take the required precautions given the spread of COVID-19.”