The NCAA Division II’s seven fall 2020 championships are canceled, the Division II Presidents Council decided Wednesday due to the operational, logistical and financial challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council made the move after the NCAA Board of Governors directed each division to make a decision on its fall sport championships. The Board of Governors also directed each division to meet various requirements to compete in the fall. Those directives include that all member institutions apply the resocialization principles to fall sports and set a 50 percent sponsorship threshold for a fall sport championship to be conducted, among other requirements. As of [Aug. 5], 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had announced they will not compete during the traditional fall season.
With the Board of Governors’ directives, the Division II Presidents Council determined that it was not feasible to hold fall championships as planned or to postpone them to the spring while prioritizing the health and well-being of student-athletes.
“After reviewing and discussing the Board of Governors’ directives, the Division II Presidents Council made the difficult decision that holding fall championships in any capacity was not a viable or fiscally responsible option for Division II,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the council. “This decision was discussed very thoroughly, and I assure you, it was not made lightly. It is important to note that fall student-athletes will be given eligibility-related flexibility to allow them championship opportunities in the future. As we move forward, we will continue to focus on providing the best championships experience for our winter and spring student-athletes who were not afforded those opportunities at the beginning of this pandemic.”
On July 22, the Division II Administrative Committee approved waivers to allow Division II student-athletes to retain the use of a season of competition if their team completes 50 percent or less of the sport’s Bylaw 17 maximum contests/dates of competition for the 2020-21 academic year. Additionally, student-athletes who qualify for the season of competition waiver, or whose institutions cancel the sport season entirely, will receive an extension of their 10 semesters/15 quarters of eligibility, provided the student-athlete was otherwise eligible for competition during the 2020-21 academic year. Division II schools and conferences can still choose to play part or all of their regular season in the fall semester if they follow the requirements set forth by the Board of Governors.
The decision to cancel the fall NCAA Division II National Championships greatly impacts the Shippensburg University specifically its field hockey team, which has won four NCAA titles in the past seven seasons (2013, 2016, 2017, 2018)
“It is a disappointment anytime championship opportunities are lost,” said Shippensburg University Athletic Director Jeff Michaels. “We experienced that with both the winter and spring championships in 2019-20 and will again experience it this fall. Our focus at Ship is to do our best to provide meaningful competitive opportunities during the spring semester for all of our teams. We are continuing to engage with our colleagues in the PSAC to work on those plans.”