The NCAA Division II Presidents Council this week lowered the maximum number of contests allowed and the minimum number of contests required for championships for the 2020-21 season.
In North Dakota, the decision affects the University of Mary and Minot State, which are members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
The NSIC will decide how best to implement those changes.
“One of the main reasons for this is budgetary,” U-Mary Athletic Director Dale Lennon said. “Because of the COVID-19, costs have taken a big, big hit on athletic departments. This is something that will be worked out.”
The NCAA said in a release the decision was based on member feedback due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Changes will be in effect for one academic year.
The change reduced the minimum number of contests required for sponsorship and championship selection by 33%. The NCAA said members have indicated they will not be able to afford the same amount of travel due to financial hardships -- if athletics resume in the fall.
Cuts were made across the board.
- Football will be limited to 10 games. U-Mary currently has 11 games scheduled.
- Basketball will be limited to 22 games. Last season, U-Mary’s women played 33 and the men played 29.
- Softball will be limited to 44 games and baseball to 40. In 2019, U-Mary played 50 and 49 games, respectively.
- Women’s volleyball can play 20 dates.
The NCAA said changes were necessary.
“The financial challenges faced by institutions because of COVID-19 are considerable and, as we prepare for summer and fall, continue to increase,” Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the Division II Presidents Council said in a release. “The approved reductions strike an important balance of providing schools with scheduling flexibility, maintaining competitive equity within the one-year reductions to minimums and maximums, and continuing to prioritize opportunities for student-athletes to compete in NCAA championships.”
The vast majority of respondents to an April survey supported a reduction to the maximum permissible contests for the 2020-21 academic year.
Conferences like the NSIC are working on the details.
“If they take the maximums, it’s not going to be too much of a change to the student-athlete. It will be a couple less games,” Lennon said. “You don’t want to go down that road but due to the circumstances we're in, it does make sense.”
The minimum numbers were added as a safeguard should seasons not start on time. In order to qualify for a trimmed-down postseason, schools would still need to meet the minimum standard.
“If it comes back to where we have a late start, you have some flexibility and still can be selected for NCAA playoff,” Lennon said.
It will be harder to make the playoffs, too, as the number of teams qualifying will also be cut 33%.
The NSIC will discuss proposals at its June conference call meeting.
“With all the scenarios out there, we’re just trying to be in position to react to the situation we are in,” Lennon said. “Everyone has hopes of returning to campus in the fall and having college athletics in the fall. But we understand that there are no guarantees. We need to be prepared.”
Sport-by-sport recommended maximums for the 2020-21 academic year. (Minimum for sponsorship/championship selection in parentheses):
- Baseball: 40 (16-16)
- Men’s basketball: 22 (15-15).
- Women’s basketball: 22 (15-15)
- Cross country: 6 (3-3)
- Field hockey: 14 (7-7)
- Football: 10 (5-7)
- Men’s golf: 16 (4-8)
- Women’s golf: 16 (4-8)
- Men’s lacrosse: 13 (5-7)
- Women’s lacrosse: 13 (7-7)
- Women’s rowing: 14 (4-4)
- Men’s soccer: 14 (7-7)
- Women’s soccer: 14 (7-7)
- Softball: 44 (16-16)
- Swimming and diving: 12 (5-5)
- Men’s tennis: 17 (7-7)
- Women’s tennis: 17 (7-7)
- Indoor track and field: 14 (3-3)
- Outdoor track and field: 14 (3-3)
- Women’s volleyball: 20 (10-10)
- Men’s wrestling: 12 (6)
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