The Michigan women’s gymnastics team went 12-1 last year with three wins against ranked opponents and a sole loss coming by a margin of less than 0.7 points to then-No. 1 Oklahoma before having its season cut short due to COVID-19 in mid-March.
The Michigan water polo team, which had won four consecutive CWPA championships, already had nine wins against ranked opponents before having its season halted.
And the Michigan wrestling team, though it had an inconsistent season that ended with a middling seventh place finish at the Big Ten Championships, had hoped for increased success in the 2020-21 season due to the prospect of multiple Olympic redshirts coming back after the Tokyo games.
What do these three teams have in common?
Aside from having reasons to believe they would be successful this winter sports season, they are all in a state of limbo. They each have no information on a schedule for their upcoming seasons, and they all are classified as non-revenue sports.
It is time for that lack of information to change.
To be clear, the nightmare of scheduling during a pandemic has befallen all winter sports. After all, men’s hockey is learning their schedule one piece at a time with no games scheduled beyond next Wednesday’s matchup with Minnesota, and women’s basketball did not receive any schedule until just days before starting its season. But at least that’s something. The non-revenue sports have only heard that they won’t start until after Jan. 1.
The lack of any information on when the winter non-revenue sports will begin their seasons can’t help but appear nonsensical.
In a normal year, wrestling would have begun competition over a month ago, and yet it has received no word on a possible schedule. Even considering the challenges faced by hockey and basketball, the fact that those sports now have at least a portion of their schedules eliminates any excuse for the current ambiguity.
The Big Ten has proven it can provide its winter revenue sports with at least portions of their schedules, so it should at least keep its non-revenue sports who play in the same season updated. That’s really the bare minimum.
The NCAA has rolled out tentative plans for the championships of all of its winter sports — with the wrestling, women’s gymnastics and water polo championships set to take place in the months of March, April and May, respectively. So why hasn’t the Big Ten made moves to follow in kind with its scheduling?
Is it going to elect to play only its revenue sports? Is it that backlogged with work that it isn’t ready to release any information? Is it unwilling to release a schedule more than a couple a weeks in advance due to ever-changing and worsening conditions in the COVID-19 pandemic?
Setting aside the first option which is waterlogged with greed and hypocrisy, the latter two would actually be understandable.
The issue at hand is not that there are no schedules; it’s that a 15-minute search for any information about those schedules and their potential timeframes leaves one with more questions than answers.
Just because the Big Ten fumbled the bag with regards to clarity and transparency when it came to the football, men’s and women’s basketball and hockey seasons does not mean it needs to keep doing so over and over again.
The last-second changes and announcements need not continue.
Instead, the Big Ten needs to be communicative going forward. If it cannot hand its non-revenue athletes and coaches a 2020-21 schedule soon, it at least needs to give them a clear plan for developing one or deliver the bad news that a season will not be happening.
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