KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Council of Presidents voted Tuesday to postpone the national championships in cross country, men's soccer, women's soccer, and women's volleyball to spring 2021.
This decision still allows NAIA conferences to compete in the fall and winter, if they so choose. The timing of the football national championship will be determined at a COP meeting Friday. Due to unique challenges surrounding football, COP members decided they needed more time to obtain feedback from their colleagues.
“Given the fast-paced and constantly changing nature of the current environment, the COP recognized that the likelihood of safely completing the fall sports season has decreased significantly,” said Dr. Arvid Johnson, COP Chair and University of St. Francis president, in an NAIA news release. “This decision allows conferences to consider the regional impact of COVID-19 when determining the appropriate time for regular-season competition.”
The Montana-based Frontier Conference is comprised of NAIA schools.
Before the COP’s vote, 51 NAIA individual institutions had already opted to postpone fall competition until spring 2021. That includes Frontier football members Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon and College of Idaho.
The Frontier has yet to reconstruct its football schedule or decide what to do about its other fall sports.
“The NAIA realizes there are a wide range of considerations that come with postponing fall championships,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said in the release. “However, our first priority is making sure our student-athletes are not penalized by this decision. That will likely require temporary rule changes and accommodations as related to eligibility and seasons of competition, which the NAIA governance groups will begin further defining this week.”
In March 2020, the NAIA canceled the spring 2020 sport season due to gathering restrictions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Consequently, no spring 2020 athlete was charged a season of competition.
“This decision exemplifies the COP placing a priority on institutional and conference autonomy while acting in the best interest of the association,” Carr said in the NAIA release. “We are fortunate to have dedicated leadership across our shared governance groups who are passionate about supporting our student-athletes’ safety and overall experience.”
The Cascade Collegiate Conference, in which several Montana schools participate in various sports, had already determined to move its fall schedules to spring.
"We are very pleased that the NAIA Council of Presidents have taken a proactive approach and moved the fall sport championships that the CCC participates in to the spring of 2021," CCC Commissioner Robert Cashell said in a league release. "This decision, which mirrors our conference decision made earlier, provides our schools an opportunity to plan for a successful campus opening and hopefully a sustained fall term of in-person educational delivery without the added pressure of travel and competition this fall in what is still a very unpredictable state of affairs with COVID-19."