MILWAUKEE (naccsports.org) – The Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) has announced adjusted scheduling and/or tournament formats for 13 of its 21 championship sports for the 2020-21 academic year.
In late July, the NACC announced the postponement of all-conference regular-season competition and championships during the fall and winter seasons through December 31, 2020. Impacted fall sports included men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball, while the winter sports of men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s indoor track and field were also disrupted.
“It is important to note that the NACC plan for 2020-21 Fall/Winter Sport Conference Competition and Championships is just that, a plan,” noted NACC Commissioner Jeff Ligney. “This is not a promise. Through its Council of Chief Executive Officers and standing committees composed of athletics administrators, the NACC is committed to doing its best to provide a quality student-athlete experience, but in a way that is safe for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, campuses, and local communities.”
The changes to NACC schedules and championships – as outlined below – are designed to be in place for the 2020-21 academic year only and are needed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These adjustments are not intended to be permanent.
- Football, Soccer (M/W), Volleyball (W): In the sports of football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball, the NACC has adopted plans to conduct Conference regular-season and postseason events that will take place after January 1, 2021. For football and men’s and women’s soccer, scheduling will be divisionally-focused, while women’s volleyball will contest a full single round-robin schedule coordinated with a revised NACC men’s volleyball slate. As NCAA Division III has canceled national championships in these sports, all NACC programs that sponsor these sports will have the opportunity to participate in a NACC postseason tournament, although these tournaments will be flighted with teams qualifying for specific flights based on their finish in the final league/divisional standings.
- Cross Country (M/W): NCAA Division III has also canceled its 2020 national cross country championship. The NACC has constructed a plan to conduct a Conference Championship in late March 2021.
- Golf (M/W): The entire 54-hole women’s golf championship and the first 36 holes of the 72-hole men’s championship will be shifted to late spring. Coaches and administrators are currently in the process of securing dates and courses for both events. The final 36 holes of the NACC men’s championship are slated to be contested as originally planned on April 25-26, 2021, at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora, Illinois.
- Tennis (W): Women’s tennis – which typically conducts a single round-robin regular-season schedule in the fall and a six-team tournament in the spring – will see its regular season moved to the spring to coordinate with a revised men’s tennis schedule. The NACC Men’s and Women’s Tennis Tournaments will remain in late April/early May 2021 as originally scheduled.
- Basketball (M/W): The NACC will contest divisionally-focused schedules in both men’s and women’s basketball. Games will be scheduled as doubleheaders, where possible, on weekends with single games on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the week. All NACC teams that sponsor these sports will have the opportunity to participate in a NACC postseason tournament. Like those planned for football, soccer, and women’s volleyball, these tournaments will be flighted. The winner of the championship flight in each gender will receive the NACC’s automatic berths to the 2021 NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, which – as of August 31 – remain on schedule.
Skill development, conditioning, and other athletically related activities for all teams in their traditional or non-traditional seasons will be permitted in accordance with NCAA Division III rules and campus, state, and NCAA health directives.
The NCAA has created a blanket waiver that allows for 114 days for practice and competition this academic year for most sports (144 days for track and field if both indoor and outdoor track and field are sponsored). The designation of traditional and non-traditional seasons have been eliminated by the NCAA in most sports for the 2020-21 academic year.
The NACC Council of CEOs supports institutional autonomy regarding the decision to participate in intercollegiate athletics or athletically related activities this year. Teams will have the autonomy to schedule additional non-conference contests, in addition to the updated Conference schedules, as institutions and teams see fit.
Other than the adjustments to the men’s tennis and men’s volleyball schedules noted above, the NACC is not proposing any schedule changes for spring sports (baseball, softball, lacrosse, outdoor track & field) at this time. It is the current intent of the NACC to have full seasons and traditional postseason events in these sports. The NACC Council of CEOs and various standing committees will continue to evaluate this plan over the coming weeks.