NCAA board hands call on fall championships to each division

NCAA board hands call on fall championships to each division
Posted at 4:06 PM, Aug 05, 2020

The NCAA Board of Governors is allowing each division of the association to decide independently whether it will be able to conduct championship events safely in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball, and lower levels of football during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The board expressed serious concerns about the continuing high levels of COVID-19 infection in many parts of the nation," the board stated in a press release. "The board has determined that it will only support moving forward with fall championships and other postseason play if strict conditions are applied and adhered to."

The board had been considering what to do about fall championship events sponsored by the NCAA, but instead of making a broad decision across three divisions, it set parameters for each to make its own call by Aug. 21.

The NCAA said athletes must be able to opt-out if they so choose if they have any concerns over COVID-19.

"If a college athlete chooses to opt-out, that individual’s athletics scholarship commitment must be honored by the college or university," the board said.

The board stated that each division must decide by Aug. 14 to determine how an athlete's eligibility would be affected if they opt-out or the season is cut short and then notify them of that decision.

The board also set some protocols when it came to coronavirus safety for athletes.

"Member schools may not require student-athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation," the statement read.

Schools must also cover all COVID-19-related medical expenses for players to "prevent out-of-pocket expenses for college athletes and their families."

When it came to hosting championships amid the pandemic, the NCAA said schools must have enhanced safety protocols that "will include regular testing, separation of college athletes and essential personnel from all other nonessential personnel, and physical distancing and masking policies during all aspects of noncompetition."

And there will be no championship if more than 50% in a particular sport cancel their fall season.

Within hours of the board's announcement, the Division III presidents council canceled fall sports championship and determined they will not be made up in the spring.