NCAA Division I Council approves moving fall championships to spring, smaller postseason

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 9:58pm

The NCAA field hockey championship, along with other fall sports, will likely be held in the spring.

The NCAA field hockey championship, along with other fall sports, will likely be held in the spring. Buy this photo
Alexis Rankin/Daily

No matter what the Big Ten decides on fall Olympic sports, the NCAA will likely hold those championships in the spring.

On Wednesday, the Division I Council approved moving fall sport championships to spring 2021, moving the decision to the Board of Directors for approval. For Michigan, this impacts men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball.

The NCAA Tournament brackets for those sports will be 75% filled, and minimum contest recommendations will be reduced, perhaps by as much as 50%.

Sites for those tournaments have yet to be decided.

“While no one wanted to see fall championships impacted by the pandemic, the Competition Oversight Committee put a thoughtful proposal in front of the Council which was resoundingly endorsed,” Penn athletic director and council chair Grace Calhoun said in a release. “We believe we have an appropriate and considerate plan to move fall championship events to the spring, and I look forward to presenting this plan to the Board of Directors next week. The plan gives maximum opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships, while preserving access to conferences through automatic qualifications.”

In the Big Ten, athletes from those sports will be included in the testing program announced Wednesday for football — daily rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. The league expects that regimen to allow a full football season, and leaders of its return to play committee sounded optimistic Wednesday that other sports could happen as well.

Football, though, was the league’s priority. Planning for those other sports will only start now that there’s a framework in place for football season.

“One of the focal points, starting tomorrow morning when we meet together again will be to make a determination (on Olympic sports),” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said on a Zoom conference with reporters. “As you know, some of the fall sports championships have already been moved to the spring. So we’ll talk about that internally and I’ll, as always, follow the advice and guidance of our athletic directors and we’ll make the determination at that appropriate time. And we’ll be able to circle back and make that announcement, too. 

“But we felt from a logistical standpoint, from an operational standpoint, that we needed to button down football because, one, with the number of student athletes there, we figured once we got that solved, then being able to apply those same policies, procedures, and protocols (to) the other sports would be straightforward. So we’ll start having those discussions tomorrow.”