NACC Announces Updated Return-to-Play Plans for 2020-21 Academic Year

December 15, 2020

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (naccsports.org) — The Council of Chief Executive Officers of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) met last week and approved a plan for the Conference to resume competition in 2021.

The sports of men’s and women’s basketball will resume play in late January. The athletic administrators of the NACC were given approval from the Chief Executive Officers to develop schedules to resume competition for winter sports and fall sports that will be moved to the spring semester.

In late July, the NACC announced the postponement of all regular-season conference competitions 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): The NACC has adopted plans to conduct Conference regular-season and postseason events that will take place in the Spring 2021 semester. Scheduling for these sports will be divisionally focused. As NCAA Division III has canceled championships in these sports, NACC programs that sponsor these sports will have the opportunity to participate in a NACC postseason tournament based on their finish in the final league/divisional standings.
  • Cross Country (M/W): NCAA Division III has also canceled its 2020 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 have been shifted to late spring. Coaches and administrators have secured dates and courses for both events.
  • 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. NACC teams that sponsor these sports will have the opportunity to participate in a NACC postseason tournament. The winners of the NACC Tournaments will receive the NACC’s automatic berths to the 2021 NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, which – as of December 11 – remain on the schedule.
  • Indoor Track and Field (M/W): The NACC has canceled its 2021 Indoor Track and Field Championships due to difficulties in securing a venue for the event.

All NACC 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 has 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.

The Council of CEOs and various standing committees will continue to evaluate this plan over the coming weeks and will make any necessary changes to ensure that all NACC athletic competition abides by federal, state, and local health authority guidelines and protocols regarding social distancing, masking, contact tracing, and coronavirus testing.