Wednesday, October 28, 2020

NCAA approves plan to play fall championships in spring, bracket sizes reduced by 25%

September 24, 2020
<p>Junior libero Jamye Cox (4) celebrates winning a set during the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2019, at Jenison Fieldhouse. The Spartans defeated the Bearcats, 3-1.</p>

Junior libero Jamye Cox (4) celebrates winning a set during the game against Cincinnati on Sept. 6, 2019, at Jenison Fieldhouse. The Spartans defeated the Bearcats, 3-1.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Sports are continuing to look different in 2020, and some of these changes may carry over to the spring as well. The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a plan Tuesday to move some fall championships to the spring for the 2020-2021 academic year. The sports affected by this change are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s water polo, and FCS football. 

The pursuit of this plan started last month, headed by the Division I Competition Oversight Committee. 

“The plan sent to us by the Division I Council provides the maximum number of opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships while still being fiscally responsible,” acting board chair Denise Trauth, president at Texas State, said. “We look forward to the spring, understanding things will look a little different but knowing the competitions will be just as meaningful as in normal circumstances.”

Another change as part of this decision is that championship bracket sizes will be reduced by 25%. FCS football typically holds a 24-team bracket, but that will be reduced to 16 teams. 

Reducing the bracket size is an interesting move as Major League Baseball did the opposite this year by expanding its playoffs from 10 teams to 16 teams. 

Players and coaches also received starting dates for these championships:

  • Men's and women's cross country
    • Jan. 23
  • Field hockey
    • Feb. 12
  • Football
    • "Institutional discretion"
  • Men's soccer
    • Feb. 3
  • Women's soccer
    • Feb. 3
  • Women's volleyball
    • Jan. 22
  • Men's water polo
    • Jan. 16

Any games played during fall of 2020 will be counted toward the selection into each sport's respective championship.

Locations of the championships will be predetermined and the number of preliminary-round sites will be reduced "to support health and safety and operational management."

In a time that there has been uncertainty whether college sports would be played, especially non-revenue sports, it is nice to finally have some closure and something to look forward to.

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