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Greg Johnson, NCAA.org | September 21, 2020

NCAA DI Council approves moving fall championships to the spring

Stanford's match point to win the 2019 national championship, from every angle

On Wednesday, the Division I Council approved a package of proposals to move the 2020 fall championships to the spring of 2021. The recommendations now go to the Division I Board of Directors for approval.

After a thorough review, the recommendations were made by the Division I Competition Oversight Committee for men’s cross country, women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s water polo. The adjustments are being made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While no one wanted to see fall championships impacted by the pandemic, the Competition Oversight Committee put a thoughtful proposal in front of the Council which was resoundingly endorsed. We believe we have an appropriate and considerate plan to move fall championship events to the spring, and I look forward to presenting this plan to the Board of Directors next week,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “The plan gives maximum opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships, while preserving access to conferences through automatic qualifications.”

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In team sports, the brackets will be filled at 75% of their normal capacities.

The oversight committee reviewed recommendations from sport committees and agreed to support maximum flexibility to allow teams to meet specified minimum contest requirements, which the committee already recommended reducing by 50%.

Contests conducted in the fall term for all fall sport championships that will be conducted in the spring will count toward selection into that respective championship. Sport committees are encouraged to consider all data available to them at the time of selections.

The oversight committee may need to revisit this topic if conditions warrant nearer the time the playing and practice seasons for these sports begin, but for now, the committee supports providing maximum flexibility for selection purposes.

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The NCAA Board of Governors has directed that all sites of each championship be predetermined and that the number of preliminary-round sites be reduced to support health and safety and operational management of the championships this spring.

All sites are to be determined.

Cross country

The Division I men’s and women’s championships are scheduled for March 15. However, there is some concern in the membership about conducting cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field in the spring term.

The Division I Competition Oversight Committee will continue to evaluate the issue.

For now, 255 runners from each gender will compete at the cross country finals site.

Regular-season competition could be conducted Jan. 30-March 5, with championships selections on March 6.

Field hockey

The semifinals and finals are scheduled for May 7-9. The championship bracket will consist of 12 teams: 10 automatic qualifiers and two at-large selections.

Normally, the bracket size for the championship is 16 teams.

Regular-season competition will be conducted Feb. 12-April 23. Selections would occur April 24.

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Men’s soccer

Action at the finals site for the Men’s College Cup is May 13-17. The bracket will consist of 36 teams, with 24 automatic qualifiers and 12 at-large selections.

The normal bracket size for the sport is 48, with four teams advancing to the finals site.

Regular-season competition can be played Feb. 3-April 17, with selections on April 18.

Women’s soccer

Action at the finals site for the Women’s College Cup is May 13-17. The bracket will consist of 48 teams, with 31 automatic qualifiers and 17 at-large selections.

Normally, the bracket size for the women’s soccer championship is 64 teams, with four teams advancing to the finals site.

Regular-season competition can be played Feb. 3-April 17, with selections on April 18.

Women’s volleyball

The finals site of the championship is scheduled for April 23-25, with a 48-team bracket. Thirty-two of the teams will be automatic qualifiers, with 16 at-large selections.

The normal bracket size for the championship is 64 teams.

Regular-season play will span from Jan. 22-April 3, with selections April 4.

Men’s water polo

The finals site is scheduled for March 20-21, with a six-team bracket. All six teams will be automatic qualifiers.

Normally, the championship has seven teams and includes a play-in round.

Regular-season play will be conducted Jan. 16-March 6, with selections March 7.

Playing and practice season rules

The Council also adopted emergency legislation adjusting playing and practice season rules for fall sports other than football.

The adjustments:

  • Allow a school to break up the fall segment into multiple segments of the playing season.
  • Prohibit practice during finals (and the week prior) at the conclusion of the fall term if a team is “in-season” but not competing.
  • Require a break prior to the start of the spring championship segment.
  • Allow schools to extend their seasons past the NCAA championship date in that sport but require seasons to end at or before the end of the school’s academic year.
  • Exempts non-NCAA championship postseason competitions that occur outside the playing season.
  • Prohibit midyear enrollees from competing in the 2020-21 academic year.

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