As if the year 2020 needed any more bad news, there’s some more on the way. On Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said that fall NCAA championships will be canceled, citing that there aren’t enough schools participating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This decision is one that will affect 22 championships, including FCS football.
“The board of governors also established if you don’t have half of the schools playing a sport, you can’t have a legitimate championship,” Emmert said in a video posted on the NCAA’s Twitter feed. “We can’t in any Division I NCAA championship sport now — which is everything other than FBS football that goes on in the fall. Sadly, tragically, that’s going to be the case this fall, full stop.”
The number of schools went down below 50 percent on Wednesday when the Big East announced they wouldn’t be participating in fall sports.
“I’m not sure now that it impacts what we’re doing in football that we’ve continued to move forward,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, chair of the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee. “Just because there’s no championship at the end doesn’t mean the whole fall is ruined for those student-athletes.”
FCS schools do plan on playing non-conference football games. However, unlike in the FBS, the national champion is awarded via the College Football Playoff. FCS football, though, will not have an NCAA-sponsored championship.
“There’s always going to be the optics of that, but from our conference, when we went through this, we added a couple extra layers of testing as part of our requirement,” he said. “And that wasn’t only going to apply to football, that is going to apply to all of our fall sports. … Are we still going to be competing in those other sports in the fall? I don’t have that answer yet. As a conference, we haven’t discussed it.”
More Decisions Moving Forward
Other sports, including soccer, women’s volleyball, and field hockey, would all have the possibility of making a return in the winter or spring.
“My staff has been working hard on it and talking to a lot of commissioners — all of them, all 32 of them in D-I, and there are ways to do this,” he said. “I’m completely confident that we can figure this out. If schools and conferences want to move forward, and try and have it and more than half of them want to do it — and that’s surely the indication now — then let’s do it. We can use the fall and 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, then let’s go compete at that time.”
A decision could be made on Aug. 21 about whether these championships get moved into the winter or spring. Last week, the NCAA announced that fall sports for Division II and Division III were canceled and wouldn’t be rescheduled for the spring.
This is certainly troubling for college sports going forward, while the ACC, Big-12 and SEC think they can continue without resistance. Buckle up, folks. This is going to be the wildest football season of all-time.