NCAA Division II athletic programs will need to adjust their schedules for the 2020-21 academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Division II Presidents Council voted Tuesday to reduce the maximum number of contests teams are permitted to play for the upcoming school year. The move was made due to the financial impact programs are facing because of the pandemic.
The council also reduced the minimum number of contests required for sport sponsorship and championships selection.
“The financial challenges faced by institutions because of COVID-19 are considerable and, as we prepare for summer and fall, continue to increase,” said council chair Sandra Jordan in a news release from the NCAA Wednesday. “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. Periods of national crisis require carefully considered compromise.”
Most notably, football and basketball seasons will be shortened as a result.
Football teams will be limited to 10 games in 2020, and basketball programs will only be able to play a maximum of 22 games in 2020-21.
That means Bemidji State and other Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference programs will need to shave games off their schedules. NSIC schools typically play 11 football games each regular season, all against conference opponents. In basketball, NSIC teams usually play 22 conference games each season, so there’s a possibility programs might not play nonconference games this season.
Athletic directors and other program representatives from all NSIC institutions will meet virtually in the coming weeks to discuss potential schedule changes, David Brown of Midco Sports Network reported Wednesday.
“NCAA Division II conferences and institutions have acknowledged through survey feedback on contests reductions that COVID-19 has presented us with financial challenges that we are proactively addressing together,” the Presidents Council said in a statement. “In that spirit, and as a result of the governance structure’s decision to reduce contest maximums, thus affecting current schedules, we strongly encourage all member institutions and conferences to work cooperatively and collegially when adjusting schedules. Please keep in mind the purpose behind these actions is to assist all institutions with short-term financial concerns so that we may emerge stronger as a membership and division.”
Last week, NSIC Commissioner Erin Lind told Forum reporter Eric Peterson that a reduction in contests for all sports, including ones in the fall, for the upcoming school year could provide the option to push the start window for each sport. Later start dates for fall sports could financially benefit athletic departments by not having athletes on campus earlier than general students. Fewer contests would also likely reduce travel expenses.
Other sports that had their maximum number of permitted contests/dates reduced includes: soccer (14 maximum), cross country (six), golf (16), women’s volleyball (20), track and field (14 combined indoor and outdoor), tennis (17), baseball (40) and softball (44).
The following is the number of contests/dates BSU programs had on their regular-season schedules in 2019-20: football (11), men’s and women’s basketball (26 each), women’s soccer (18), cross country (three), men’s golf (17), women’s golf (16), volleyball (28), track and field (21 combined indoor and outdoor), tennis (17), baseball (50) and softball (54).
Along with Division II sports, the pandemic has also begun to affect scheduling for the 2020-21 Division I hockey season.
Holy Cross has canceled a trip to Arizona State because of anticipated budget crunches caused by the pandemic, Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Tuesday. Other hockey programs are also on the verge of canceling or rescheduling nonconference games that require significant travel.