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NCAA Division I Council sees the return of spring for non-football sports

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A month after canceling fall championships in non-football sports in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday outlined the structure and timing of possible replacement spring seasons and championships for those displaced sports.

The council approved recommendations made by the competition oversight committee earlier this month, including reducing post-season fields by 25% and including programs in the handful of conferences that will continue to compete this fall.

Those recommendations will now be sent to the Division I Board for approval later this month.

The Division I sports involved are men’s and women’s cross country, hockey, men’s and women’s football, women’s volleyball, and men’s water polo.

“While no one wanted the fall championships to be affected by the pandemic, the competition oversight committee put forward a thoughtful proposal to the board that was wholeheartedly endorsed,” said M. Grace Calhoun, board chair and athletic director of the University of California. Pennsylvania. “We believe we have an appropriate and well-considered plan to move the fall championships to spring, and I look forward to presenting this plan to the board of directors next week.”

Individual schools and conferences should also choose to participate, even with the approval of the board of directors.

Three sports should start in January: water polo on January 16, volleyball on January 22 and cross country on January 3.

Men’s and women’s football would follow on February 3 and hockey on February 12.

Most regular seasons would end in the second half of April, with the exception of cross country and water polo, which would end their regular seasons in March.

Of the notable championships, the women’s volleyball final four would take place April 23-25, while the Men’s College Cup and Women’s College Cup would each take place May 13-17.

All championships will have pitches reduced by 25%, with the discounts coming from large selections and seats still reserved for champions of the conference. Women’s soccer and volleyball, for example, would each have 48 team stirrups, with 17 major teams in soccer and 16 major teams in volleyball.

The Board pointed out that all championships are held at predetermined locations and that early round venues are being consolidated “to support the health and safety and operational management” of the events.

The council has also passed emergency legislation that changes the rules for the traditional championship (fall) and non-championship (spring) segments of each sport. Schools are allowed to play matches from the championship segment in both fall and spring. In practice, this means that women’s soccer teams in a conference such as ACC, which is currently hosting an autumn season, can spread the 20 regular season games they are allowed to play over the fall and spring.

Schools are required to give athletes a break before the start of the spring season.

In addition, the NCAA said the race committee will continue to study cross country after concerns were raised about running cross country and indoor and outdoor athletics in the spring.

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