FAQs - Winter 2020 Athletics

How was this decision made?
This decision was not made quickly nor without considerable effort. Since the abrupt cessation of athletics last spring, a conference-wide COVID steering committee, as well as working groups made up of NCAC academic leaders, administrators, faculty representatives, health care professionals, legal counsel and coaches have been planning for our return to play. Conference presidents and governance groups have also met regularly to review and direct the work being done. 

Additionally, we have consulted with public health experts and utilized the guidance of national health organizations and national sport governing bodies such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, the American Enterprise Institute, the White House, the American College Health Association, the National Athletic Training Association’s Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine and the NCAA, in particular the Association’s Core Principles for Resocialization of College Sports. This work resulted in what we considered truly collaborative strategies, best practices and risk mitigation guidelines, which included the development of a conference testing protocol for the upcoming academic year. 

In particular, the NCAA’s NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, includes team physicians; infectious disease and public policy experts; representatives from the membership; and representatives from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the National Medical Association, the Autonomy-5 Medical Advisory Group, and the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, has provided evolving medical guidance, specifically around testing and other protocols.

What is the NCAA's Core Principles for Resocialization of Collegiate Sports?
The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates. You will find full details here. The NCAA is continuing to monitor all information around COVID-19. Please continue to check the website for updates.

How are sports determined to be “high”, “intermediate” or “low” risk?
In accordance with the NCAA’s Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sports, each NCAA-sponsored sport was classified as low, intermediate, or high risk for virus transmission based on consensus from the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel and the AMSSM COVID-19 Working Group on the probability and significance of respiratory droplet spread during vigorous exercise when physical distancing and masking are not applied or are not possible. 

  • Low transmission risk: bowling, diving, equestrian, fencing, golf, rifle, skiing, swimming, tennis, track and field.
  • Intermediate transmission risk: acrobatics and tumbling, baseball, beach volleyball, cross country, gymnastics, softball, triathlon.
  • High transmission risk: basketball, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, rugby, soccer, squash, volleyball, water polo, wrestling.

What sports does this most recent decision cover?
The sports covered are men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s indoor track & field. 

What will participation look like for winter sports?
Individual return-to-play protocols will be in place at each member institution to allow for an athletic experience with or without competition within the parameters of federal, state, institutional, conference and NCAA guidance. Institutions will make their own decisions around competition against teams within, or outside of, the NCAC based on those parameters.

Regardless of competition, teams will be able to practice and gather this winter, under the supervision of their coaches, as long as they comply with all safety standards in place across their respective campuses. Student-athletes will not be on campus for practice or athletically related activity during the time period between Thanksgiving break and New Year’s Day.

The conference will continue to plan ways to create positive interactions for our student-athletes, coaches and staffs with programming, leadership and professional development opportunities and fun features about members of our NCAC family. 

Though the season looks different from any other, we will continue to partner with our campus and conference student-athlete advisory committees and our coaches to explore ways for our student-athletes to engage in their passion.

When will decisions be made about spring and fall sports competition?
The NCAC statement specifically applies to any conference competition for the winter championship sports. Decisions about spring and or/fall sport competitions will be made at a later date as more information becomes available. 

Any competition would likely be prefaced by a period of resocialization and acclimatization. We will monitor public health guidance and continue our work with local, state and federal health authorities, as well as the NCAA and other national medical and sports organizations. 

Even though we continue to diligently work to find ways to conduct competition in the coming semester,  it is important to keep in mind current realities as well, including but not limited to the following: 

  1. If current public health conditions continue or worsen throughout the upcoming months, the opportunities for competition will remain as they currently exist. 
  2. If public health conditions improve to permit more robust competition in the spring semester, it will be important to remember athletics will continue to look different as various resources such as staffing, court/field space, availability of lighting, and weather, will create significant challenges as we try to maximize opportunities for sports over the course of one semester.
  3. Public health conditions may vary from location to location at any given time.
  4. Decisions around athletic competition and activity may depend on the defined transmission risk levels presented by each sport.

Will NCAA Championships for Division III winter and spring sports be conducted?
The NCAA continues to plan for winter and spring sport championships. Adjustments to selection dates, brackets and field sizes and contest sites are underway so as to safely conduct championship events, if conditions allow.

It is expected that the NCAA threshold for conducting championships in any Division will be that at least 50 percent of the teams competing in any sport must conduct a regular season for a championship to be held.

Will NCAA Championships for Division III fall sports be conducted?
The NCAA canceled fall sport championships for Division II and III.

Will practicing affect my NCAA eligibility?
No. For Division III student-athletes, participation in workouts, meetings or practices in their usual season during the fall or spring semester will not trigger the use of a season of participation. 

Additionally, the NCAA recently issued a blanket waiver that states that Division III student-athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50 percent or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA also issued a blanket statement stating that a student-athlete will receive a two semester extension of eligibility (towards their 10-semester total) if they are unable to participate due to COVID-19 or if their team completes 50% or less of that sport's maximum contests/dates of competition. Visit the NCAA website for the full announcement.