HUNTINGTON — For now, the NCAA is not punting its fall championships away.
On Friday, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced that the organization is holding off on canceling the NCAA-sponsored fall sports championships until its August meeting.
Emmert added that the organization will continue to monitor COVID-19 and listen to its medical personnel and other state and local officials to do what is in the best interest of the health and well-being of student-athletes.
“Today, the Board of Governors and I agreed that we must continue to thoughtfully and aggressively monitor health conditions around the country and the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines we issued last week,” Emmert said. “The health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November.”
For now, the decision is a victory for all athletes under the NCAA’s umbrella.
Had the Board of Governors voted to cancel its sponsored 2020 fall championships, it would’ve continued what has been a more than four-month hiatus on sports.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, West Virginia University athletic director Shane Lyons reached out to Emmert and the Board of Governors requesting that a decision not be made immediately.
Even though college football’s championships are sponsored by the College Football Playoff and bowl system, which means they weren’t subject to the cancellation, a decision to end all fall sports would’ve put considerable pressure on college football to do the same, which could cause a financial windfall that many university athletic departments may not be able to come back from.
Also prior to Friday’s meeting, the Collegiate Commissioners Association, which represent all 32 Division I conferences, sent a letter to the NCAA’s Board of Governors asking to delay a decision as well.
While the delay gives the NCAA a couple more weeks to see if the COVID-19 numbers can turn around to a more favorable ratio for competition, the picture painted was still bleak.
This week, numbers in regards to COVID-19 were actually just as high, if not higher, in many areas than when the NCAA unveiled its plan to re-institute sports, called the “Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport.”
That has Emmert sounding less than optimistic about moving forward with fall competition.
“We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see,” Emmert said. “It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner.
“We discussed other complexities in addition to the health and safety impacts, to include team availability, travel limitations and various local and state restrictions. We will continue our discussions in August.”