Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA and universities across the country have struggled to bring college sports back while maintaining health and safety for all students, coaches and administrators. However, things are beginning to look up as many updates coming from the NCAA and the respective conferences across the nation suggest that college sports will be back in full swing very soon.
Many schools like the University of Rhode Island have elected to push their fall sports to the spring. Schedules for that season have not been formed yet, but most fall teams across the country have begun practice in some form in compliance with health and safety regulations.
“While no one wanted to see fall championships impacted by the pandemic…our plan gives maximum opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships while preserving access to conferences through automatic qualifications,” NCAA Council Chair and University of Pennsylvania Athletic Director M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement on Tuesday.
While some schools are waiting to play until the spring, big-time Division I conferences are pushing as hard as they can to make sports happen this fall. The Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and Big 12 Conference are playing football this weekend, while the Big 10 announced the schedule for their football season set to kick off in October.
While fall sports continue to figure out the right plan for their season, winter sports are starting to put plans into action. According to NCAA.org, the Division I council approved the Nov. 25 start date for men’s and women’s basketball. NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said, “The new start date near the Thanksgiving Holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season. It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
Not all games in the original non-conference schedule will be played, as the new start date provides scheduling challenges when it comes to the non-conference games. One example is the Atlantic Ten-Mountain West challenge, as Rhody’s men’s basketball scheduled matchup with Boise State was cancelled. The conferences announced on Monday the postponement of the challenge for one year.
After this, the Atlantic 10 will begin conference play. While there isn’t an exact start date for conference play, there is a plan in place for teams to have home and away partners as well as teams that they will play twice within the conference schedule. For the Rams, they will be taking on Davidson, Dayton, St. Joseph’s, UMass, and VCU twice this season.