BREAKING: The NCAA Division I Board of Directors has just announced that it will be hosting scaled back fall sport championships in the spring of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacted sports include men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball and more.
Spring championships can only occur if "conducted safely and in accordance with federal, state and local health guidelines", the board members warned. The finalization of bracket sizes and composition will be approved at a later time.
This decision does not include the top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), which the NCAA does not govern. The College Football Playoff still plans to move forward with its national championship, despite nearly half of the conferences canceling their fall seasons entirely.
Several new precautionary measures and policies have been put in place to further help athletes during this unprecedented time. A blanket waiver has been passed by the Council allowing all fall sport student-athletes to receive both an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it. Major protections are in immediate effect including:
- Schools are prohibited from requiring student-athletes to waive legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation
- Schools are prohibited from canceling or reducing athletic scholarships if a college athlete in any sport opts not to participate due to COVID-19
- Student-athletes who do not enroll full time during the 2020 fall semester have flexibility in the progress-toward-degree requirements that must be met for eligibility in future terms
Little Hope for a Fall NCAA Volleyball Season and Championship
According to VolleyballMag, there are now 148 NCAA Division I volleyball teams out until spring 2021. The most notable departures being the Big Ten, which has consistently produced the toughest Division I women’s volleyball conference in recent years, and the Pac-12 which includes the 9-time National Champions the Stanford Cardinal women’s volleyball team.
This many postponed volleyball seasons is troublesome as the NCAA has stated if more than "half of the eligible teams in one sport postpone their seasons there will be no NCAA championship."
Wisconsin Badger volleyball head coach Kelly Sheffield expressed low expectations for a full fall season on the Point Wisconsin podcast last week:
“I think everybody has gotten to the point where they’d like to see us move [the volleyball season] to the spring. Let’s stop trying to move this back. We don’t even have a conference schedule right now, and we’re 10 days from pre-season. If we thought there was a reasonable chance to begin this fall and finish the fall, almost everybody would say, all right, let’s go, let’s do this. This push for the spring is a feeling that we’re going to get started in the fall and not get anywhere close to being able to finish it.”
You can follow the latest news and schedule changes related to college sports on NCAA’s dedicated COVID-19 updates page.