While I certainly understand that most of you are concerned about the Syracuse Orange football team’s 2020 season there’s another group of athletes in a more precarious situation. Last week the NCAA cancelled fall championships which impacts soccer, field hockey, volleyball and cross-country. A decision which became automatic once enough conferences decided to cancel their seasons and an especially unfortunate one for the Syracuse field hockey and cross-country teams who would be celebrating the fifth anniversary of their national titles.
"We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships."— NCAA (@NCAA) August 13, 2020
NCAA President Mark Emmert discusses the latest developments in fall sports and looks ahead to winter and spring championships.
Hear more on the NCAA Social Series TONIGHT at 7 p.m. ET from @NCAA. pic.twitter.com/SmjC8FU0Uo
This conflicts with the ACC’s plan to hold fall sports competitions in 2020, so where does it leave athletes in these sports? We’ll have to see if the NCAA news causes the ACC to change their position but if they don’t where does it leave the athletes? They have been training all summer and have returned to campus for preseason camps and they face a larger measure of uncertainty because their sports aren’t revenue generators.
The NCAA might not have the influence over football but the organization needs to step in quickly and provide some direction for fall sport athletes. Without the ability to compete for a NCAA Championship should these athletes redshirt? What happens to scholarships and roster management for the athletes and coaches?
This might not be a big issue for a lot of fans but if these teams start a season in September and it’s ended in early October, it doesn’t seem right to penalize the athletes. A solution that could be implemented would be to not count this Fall as a season of eligibility. If conferences want to still hold championships then let them but let’s just consider this the equivalent of the off-season contests.
The NCAA should also allow all fall sport athletes to retain their scholarship for 2021 without counting the amount or the athlete against the team scholarship/roster limits next year. Like they did for 2020 spring sport athletes, this would allow schools to honor scholarship offers to current high school athletes without penalizing them or the returners.
This certainly isn’t ideal for all the athletes as some will decide to move onto the next phase of their lives but it’s a better option than getting into early October and cutting seasons and athletic careers short due to unforeseen circumstances.