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Conferences around the country are opting out of fall sports altogether, with many hoping to postpone play until the spring of 2021. This goes for the Big Ten, Mid-American Conference (MAC), and Pac-12 (the Pac-12 has specifically postponed all sports through the end of 2020, affecting some winter sports as well). Regardless of whether some conferences still hold their regular seasons, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced on Twitter on Aug. 13 that the NCAA cannot have fall championships at this point due to the lack of participation amid COVID-19.
This championships cancellation applies to all Division I sports except for football conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), despite that fact that three major conferences within that division — Big Ten, Pac-12, and MAC — already opted out of college football in the fall. An NCAA spokesperson and assistant director of communications, Jeremy Villanueva, told POPSUGAR that championships for the FBS are still on track to happen because “the Division I College Football Playoff and bowl games are independently operated, and the NCAA does not receive revenue from these events.”
Big Ten, Pac-12, and MAC have postponed their seasons until spring, but there is no current guarantee they will play then (although some teams are already drafting plans for what the spring season could look like). Other FBS football conferences, like the Southeastern Conference (SEC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and Big 12, are committed to playing in the fall, so far.
However, championships for the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), the other subdivision of Division I college football that includes Big South, Missouri Valley, and Ohio Valley, will not take place this year. Note: many FCS conferences opted out of the fall football season anyway.
Division II and Division III championships for all fall sports have been canceled as well. This, unlike Division I, includes football because the NCAA hosts those championships, Villanueva confirmed. In addition, as of now, conferences across divisions that have opted to continue sports this fall can still conduct their regular season however they choose regardless of the championships cancellation.
“We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert discusses the latest developments in fall sports and looks ahead to winter and spring championships.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) August 13, 2020
The spokesperson noted that championships in the winter and spring are currently scheduled to take place as planned, and committees in each division will ultimately need to make a decision for themselves otherwise. “That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t and can’t turn toward winter and spring and say, ‘OK, how can we create a legitimate championship for all those students?”’ Emmert said in the video above. “There are ways to do this. I’m completely confident we can figure this out.”
Emmert continued, “We can use the fall to keep kids healthy, keep them engaged with their coaches and their athletic departments, focus on their academic success, work with them, [and] let them practice and stay ready to play.”
As for how this will impact scholarships, ESPN reported that for Pac-12 student athletes specifically, they will continue to have their scholarships guaranteed. According to CBS Sports, some Big Ten schools, like Ohio State and Wisconsin have already said they will honor scholarships.
We watched the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt college sports in the spring of this year, and it continues to affect the seasons of student athletes who had hoped to compete in the fall. We’ll keep watch as more conferences announce how they’re handling their seasons moving forward and if the status of any cancellation is updated.