By: Luke Matheson
For the 2020-21 academic year only, the minimum number of contests required in Division II for sport sponsorship and championships selection, as well as the maximum number of contests and dates of competition allowed, will be smaller than in years past as a result of financial impacts from COVID-19.
The Division II Presidents Council in a teleconference Tuesday voted for reductions in all three areas strictly for the 2020-21 academic year.
Will Prewitt, Commissioner for the Great American Conference, spoke with DeltaplexNews.com to discuss how the GAC will be affected by this change.
“It’s really a difficult decision, but it’s a process that I felt really good about,” Prewitt said. “There were two different membership surveys, both of which showed over 80 percent of our athletic directors across the Division, and pretty much all 12 in the Great American Conference, indicated that we needed some sort of relief from the amount of contests that we played this year.”
Prewitt said it was a “brutal decision” for spring sport athletes who saw their 2020 season cut short.
“When you look at spring sport athletes that saw their seasons interrupted this year it is a brutal decision to make for them,” Prewitt said.
Prewitt said that he would rather see a few games cut out than see entire programs be cut due to academic issues.
“When you look across the board, and we are no exception, people are losing anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent, or even more of their budgets,” said Prewitt. “The mindset inside of the GAC is that we don’t want to be the Bowling Green baseball, the Furman baseball, the East Carolina swimming and diving. If it means we have to play four less basketball games, one less football game, go all the way down the line – I’d rather sacrifice that than look at entire programs being chopped, coaches losing their jobs or support staff such as sports information or athletic trainers.”
Prewitt also said that most programs should be able to play their maximum amount of games barring a flare up of the COVID-19 virus.
“Unless we hit a flare up with COVID-19 the minimums really aren’t as important as the maximums because most people are going to play somewhat close to the maximums,” Prewitt said. “We are still in the process of trying to work through all of this. Our athletic directors met (last) week, our presidents meet (this) week. The maximums allow us to keep our 22-game schedule for basketball, we’re hoping it allows us to keep our 33-game schedules for baseball, and 33-game schedule for softball.”
Prewitt said conference games should remain the same, but non-conference games could be cut out in several sports.
“There’s really not a lot of areas that we think we are going to have to reduce what we’ve had for conference games,” Prewitt said. “Obviously non-conference games may go away in a few sports, but we’re really hoping we can move forward with having a great GAC season. Obviously in basketball we may have a non-conference season and it may be limited in other sports. Right now, championships are still on in the same format we’ve always seen in Division Two.”
GAC football teams do not play non-conference games but could see changes in other areas according to Prewitt.
“We already play an entirely inclusive conference schedule,” Prewitt said. “We would be cutting out a conference football game if we stay at the maximum there. We have looked at redoing the schedule because if you are going to cut you are not cutting two schools that are close to each other. The way our conference works out there is no real way to just cut a week and not have total chaos. We are looking at redoing a schedule. If you are supposed to play someone at home or someone on the road that wouldn’t change, but we would have to scramble things up a little bit, but there would also be priority it making sure schools would be able to keep those schedules homecoming days and rivalry week games would remain on the last week of the season. It would be somewhere between a reshuffling and a new schedule, but really the only thing that is going to change might be the ordering in places.”
Prewitt said that he has a “guarded optimism” for the best-case scenario for the 2020-21 seasons.
“Obviously it is a guarded optimism,” Prewitt said. “Nothing is for certain, but right now we are preparing to play sports in 2020-2021. It may not look like it has looked in the past, we may not play as many games as we have in the past, but right now we are hoping we can keep moving forward.”
Sport-by-sport recommended maximums for the 2020-21 academic year only:
- Baseball: 40.
- Men’s basketball: 22. (Note: Men’s basketball teams may not exempt two contests played as part of a conference challenge event or games played in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020- 21 academic year. Typically, schools can exempt these contests.)
- Women’s basketball: 22. (Note: Women’s basketball teams may not exempt two contests played as part of a conference challenge event or games played in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020-21 academic year. Typically, schools can exempt these contests.)
- Cross country: 6.
- Field hockey: 14.
- Football: 10.
- Men’s golf: 16.
- Women’s golf: 16.
- Men’s lacrosse: 13.
- Women’s lacrosse: 13.
- Women’s rowing: 14.
- Men’s soccer: 14.
- Women’s soccer: 14.
- Softball: 44.
- Swimming and diving: 12.
- Men’s tennis: 17.
- Women’s tennis: 17.
- Indoor track and field: 14.
- Outdoor track and field: 14.
- Women’s volleyball: 20.
- Men’s wrestling: 12.
- The Presidents Council voted to reduce the minimum number of contests for championships selection in the 2020-21 academic year by 33%. The council also approved a blanket waiver to reduce the minimum number of contests required for sports sponsorship by 33%.
- Women’s rowing is the lone exception to the 33% reduction to minimums for championships selection, which would set their minimums at three contests. Rowing’s minimum requirement instead was decreased from five to four contests. The rationale behind rowing’s exception was that a team could conceivably compete three times in one weekend, as one race equals one contest. The adjusted minimum encourages teams to compete on at least two weekends to be selected for the Division II championship.
- The 33% reduction to the minimums for sports sponsorship includes all Division II sports, including National Collegiate Championship sports, emerging sports and Division II men’s ice hockey.