Fall Sports Championships to be determined at Division-level, NCAA Board of Governors decides

The NCAA has decided to let Division I, Division II, and Division III independently decide on whether or not to hold championships for sports in the fall.

Fall Sports Championships to be determined at Division-level, NCAA Board of Governors decides
The UVa men's soccer team beat Wake Forest 2-1 in the College Cup semifinals (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The NCAA Board of Governors got together for a big meeting on Tuesday, to decide whether or not to cancel fall sports championships.

The meeting ended without taking a vote.

But on Wednesday, they made a decision: to let someone else decide.

The NCAA has announced that Division I, Division II, and Division III will be able to make their own decision on whether or not to hold fall sports championships.

There will not be an overriding ruling from the Board of Governors.

Virginia and Virginia Tech both play Division I.

In order for championships in sports like soccer, volleyball, and field hockey to be held, at least 50-percent of the teams on that level must compete during the regular season.

They have until August 21st to make a decision.

The announcement does not directly impact the top-level of college football, as conferences in the FBS conduct their own postseason, but the cancellation of the championships by the NCAA could have pushed the Power Five conferences to leave the NCAA, and hold their own postseason.

The NCAA did rule on Wednesday that student-athletes must be given the opportunity to opt-out of the season due to COVID-19, and if they do, the schools must still honor their scholarship.

However, each division now has to decide on whether the opting-out athlete will retain their year of eligibility, or if they will lose it.

They have until August 14th.

18/5/2020NCAA Board of Governors decision on fall sports championshipsduring 2020-21 and requirements for each division related to the conduct of fall sports and championships. During this period of extraordinary disruption to our nation, higher education, student-athletes, member schools, and indeed all of sport around the world, the Board of Governors has madedifficult and unprecedented decisions, each based on a bedrock commitment to the health and safety of student-athletes. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues—even intensifies —andnewdecision points are approaching with respect to the return of fall athletics generally and NCAAfall championshipsspecifically, the board recognizesthe myriad factors under consideration and varied circumstances across the country and across Divisions I, I and III.The board has determined the best course of actionto ensure appropriateconsideration of the wide-ranging concerns of the membershipand the health and safety priorities of student-athletes is to directeach divisionto take appropriate actions based on requirements identified and approved by the board.The most important consideration shall be whether championships can be conducted safely.We have very serious concerns about the continuing high levels of COVID-19 infection in many parts of our nation. The board has determined that it will only support moving forward with fall championships and other postseason play if strict conditionsareapplied and adhered to and there is significant reduction in COVID-19 spread. We understand that each division’sprimaryfocusishealth and safety,and some may not be similarly situated in terms of whether its members and governance structure have the resources available to take the necessary precautions (for regular-season competition or championships) given the health data trends and the spread of COVID-19.There are other student-athlete well-being determinations that also must be taken into account even if safetymeasures can be met and exceeded, such as mental and personal health concerns of student-athletes, available funding, logistics limitations and the quality of the championships experience.This direction from the board requireseach division to take actionthroughits governance process and must include the requirements below for conducting fall sports seasonsand related championships.The board willactively monitor any fall championshipapproach,and after receiving information from a division,retainsthe ability to make a final determination that fall sports championships will be cancelled. Further, this decision and direction only applies to fall sports and relatedchampionships,and decisions regarding winter and spring sports and related championships will be made at a later date.Health and SafetyThe Boardof Governors directs the divisions in the following manner:•All member schools must adhere to federal, state and local guidelines related to COVID-19. Further, the conduct of NCAA fall sports championships must be in line with federal, state and local guidelines.•All member schools conducting fall sports programs must employ and adhere to the protocolsset forth in the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competitiondocument and subsequent updates. Such protocols should be implemented for all athletically related activities(voluntary,requiredand out of season) and in-seasonpractice and

BOG Discussion –Fall ChampionshipsPage No.2_________8/5/2020competition(preseason, regular season andpostseason). If a change in local circumstances warrants a discontinuation of athletics activities, schools should make that decision in conjunction with public health officials as outlined in the resocialization document.We have set guidelines that schools must follow, but these guidelines do not support attempting sports in areas where there is significant spread of the virus.•Because the resocialization document (and later updates) cannot speak to every scenario or circumstance involving potential exposure to COVID-19, it must not be used as an absolute fail-safe document but rather should be augmented with guidance from campus, local, stateand federal authorities and otherbodies mostfamiliar with the specific circumstances of a community.•All fall sports postseasoncompetitioninvolving NCAA student-athletes must adhere to the protocols set forth in the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition document and subsequent updates.Timeframe:The deadline for divisional governance action isAug.14.Student-Athlete Well-BeingThe Board of Governors directsthe divisions inthe followingmanner:•All student-athletes must be provided an opportunity to opt out of participation due toconcerns about contractingCOVID-19,and if a student-athlete chooses to opt out, the individual’sathletics scholarship commitment must be honored.•Appropriate eligibility-related accommodations must be made for student-athletes who opt out of participating this fall or those whose seasonsare interrupted or cut short due to COVID-19.•While statements of personal commitment to health and safety are acceptable, member schools may not require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19as a condition of athletics participation.•Divisions must developrules providing that member schools will coverCOVID-19-related health costsrelated to infections that local health officials reasonably believe were the result of student-athletes’ sports participation. Timeframe: The deadline for divisional governance action isAug.14.Championships-Related IssuesIf a division moves forward with planning for any fall championships, the Board of Governors further directs the division as follows:BOG Discussion –Fall ChampionshipsPage No.3_________8/5/2020•NCAA fall sports championships must be conducted usingthe principles associated with developing enhanced safety for student-athletes and essential athletics personnel. Such enhanced safety includes regular testing, separation of student-athletesand essential personnel from all other nonessential personnel, and physical distancing and masking policies during all aspects of noncompetition. •If 50% or more of eligible teams in a particular sport in a division cancel or postpone their fall season, there will be no NCAA fall championship in that sport.•If any division elects to postpone fall sports championships, thedecision to conduct the championships at later datesmust be based on the scientific data available at that time,as well as an assessment of the operational, logistical and financial impact of proceeding.When a championship is set to occur on a new date, an additional assessment must be made using the same factors (scientific data available at the time and operational, logistical and financial impact),and the division will report its determinations to the Board of Governors for its review.•If a decision is made to move forward with fall sports championships, there must bea plan for scaling down the number of championship sites,including the possibility of single sites where appropriate, reduced bracketing, fewer competitors, and similar actions to create efficient and effective events.•A division may allow for some fall sports championships to occur and others not be conducted based on level of risk to the student-athlete, but in all instances, decisions must comport with the Association’s commitment to gender equity.Timeframe: Based on when 50% threshold is metor divisional governance action is taken, which may be no later than Aug.21.HotlineFurther,the NCAA will publicize a phone number and email address for concerns to be raised about whether an athletics department is meeting the obligations reflected in the resocialization standardsor otherwise engaged in behavior that puts student-athletes at risk of COVID-19. Upon receiving a concern, the NCAA will notify the campus athletics health care administrator and conference office about the concern. The athletics health care administrator will be expected to take immediate reasonable measures to reviewthe concern and notify the NCAA of action taken, if action is necessary.Timeframe:The deadline for NCAA national office action is Aug.14.

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