The upcoming NCAA football season is looking bleaker and bleaker. The organization has decided that its Div. II and III championship games will be canceled over concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. This was not an easy decision to make and is certainly not what football fans want to hear. There’s no word yet on other divisions, but the University of Connecticut has already decided to cancel its participation in the upcoming season.
Upcoming NCAA Season To Be Trimmed Down
On Wednesday, the NCAA Board of Governors ordered each division of the association to make a decision by Aug 21 if it will be suitable for them to proceed with championship events this season upcoming, following safety protocols this fall. The sports involved are soccer, volleyball, and lower levels of football amid the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The governing body preferred assigning the responsibility of what to do concerning the fall championships to the three divisions in charge, so they could establish parameters for each and reach a final agreement.
A few hours later, after the board’s report, the Division III presidents council announced they canceled the fall sports season and decided the games won’t be replaced in the spring. Later, the Division II presidents applied the same measure. According to the boards, the policy requires that at least 50% of teams in any division must be present in order to carry out a regular-season; otherwise, it is not allowed. Division III states that the intention is to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, and communities. This tough decision also shows that the division is dealing with administrative and financial challenges.
NCAA President Calls An Audible
The board is very clear on the fact that all sports activities during the fall, no matter if they are preseason workouts, regular-season games or postseason national tournaments, must adhere to the NCAA’s return-to-sport policy for the upcoming season. On the same matter, NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement, “First and foremost, we need to make sure we provide a safe environment for college athletes to compete for an opportunity to play in NCAA championships.” Emmert is concerned about athletes involved having safe conditions to play.
The president adds, “A decision based on the realities in each division will provide clarity for conferences and campuses as they determine how to safely begin the academic year and the return to sports.” Undoubtedly, the board will have to analyze deeply under what conditions the next academic year begin and how sports resume.
Some Relief Coming For College Athletes
On the other hand, the board requires schools to honor an athlete’s scholarship if the player decides to opt-out due to fears of coronavirus. Each division is to determine no later than Aug. 14 if athletes who abandon the championship are entitled to have a year of eligibility. The board also states that the NCAA will not allow member schools to obligate athletes to abandon legal rights governing COVID-19 in order to take part in the upcoming sports season, and also all expenses given athletes related to coronavirus are to be covered by school adhering to insurance programs.
Due to the fact that fall sports championships were canceled, there is a growing concern about the scholarship and eligibility retention offered to athletes. However, the PAC-12 players #WeAreUnited group is pushing in this regard. Another group, #BigTenUnited, also posted a list of demands on The Players’ Tribune website; however, it mainly focuses on coronavirus guidelines and protocols. The PAC-12 group is also seeking that the conference leadership addresses issues like racial inequality and economic rights among athletes. One of their strongest demands is that 50% of media revenue generated by a sport should be shared with the players.
The Big Ten group also requests an increase in coronavirus testing for players, and that includes a test done on the day of the NCAA football game, having results delivered at least two hours before the contest. The association also seeks to have athletes tested more promptly, and the Power Five conferences are working to have their own coronavirus regulations, as well. Although a COVID-19 vaccine is reportedly in the works, it may not be available in time to save football this year.