The NCAA on Wednesday unveiled the preliminary framework for spring competition in volleyball and the other fall college sports that were postponed because of COVID-19.
There will be fall sports champions crowned next spring.
The sport-specific plans — which most notably call for a 25% reduction of postseason participants — still have to be approved by the NCAA’s Board of Directors. And they’re designed with flexibility in mind.
But the decisions, at the very least, would create a revised scheduling structure for the fall sports teams (not including football) whose seasons have been in limbo for several weeks.
The Big Ten, Big East and the Summit League all announced last month that they would be postponing fall sports, sidelining squads at Nebraska, Creighton and UNO. Volleyball, soccer and cross country were among the local teams affected.
They all may soon have a new official start date — and a new postseason format.
For example, in volleyball, the proposed postseason tournament would consist of 48 teams (instead of the normal 64). That’s 32 automatic qualifiers and 16 at-large picks.
The proposed regular season calendar for volleyball would extend from Jan. 22 to April 10 — although the NCAA indicated in a news release that if fall sports teams do resume play before that date, those game results could be considered by the selection committees.
The NCAA also intends to host its volleyball final four on April 23 and 25, pending approval.
That event was originally scheduled to take place at the CHI Health Center. It's unclear if Omaha will still be the host. But all postseason sites for these new spring events will be determined beforehand, according to the NCAA's news release.
More details could be revealed in the coming days.
“We believe we have an appropriate and considerate plan to move fall championship events to the spring, and I look forward to presenting this plan to the Board of Directors next week,” said NCAA Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, Penn’s athletic director.
NU coach John Cook has long been in favor of moving the sport to a winter/spring slate, opposite of football. The NCAA’s recommendation would allow it to happen. No Big Ten teams had put together a schedule for this fall because of the league’s original decision to postpone fall sports Aug. 11.
A few leagues — such as the SEC — are putting together a limited volleyball schedule this fall. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said on Wednesday the league had wanted to “button down” its football decision before shifting to other fall sports.
In men’s soccer, the postseason bracket would be reduced to 36 teams (instead of 48). The women’s soccer tournament would feature 48 teams. Both sports’ College Cup is scheduled for May 13-17.
The NCAA set preliminary spring championship dates for cross country (March 15), field hockey (May 7-9) and men’s water polo (March 20-21).
The Council also ruled that mid-year enrollees will not be allowed to play in the 2020-21 seasons.
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