Summit League Announces 2020-2021 Plans

Earlier this week, the NCAA gave clearance for schools to bring football and basketball players back to practice on campus on June 1st. In the wake of the NCAA’s announcement, the Joint Council of the Summit League, which is made up of school athletic directors and senior woman administrators, recently agreed to keep the current conference schedules, tournament qualifier criteria, and tournament structure in place for the upcoming school year despite the crippling financial implications of COVID-19 across the country. That means that eight teams will continue to qualify for the Sioux Falls basketball tournament which determines the Summit League representative for the NCAA tournament.

For Fall sports, Denver looks to play their regular-season conference schedule with the current conference tournament format intact. That would mean that in volleyball, the University of South Dakota would host the top 6 teams. For men’s soccer, Oral Roberts will host the top 4 teams. For women’s soccer, Denver will host the top 4 regular season teams.

Summit League schools’ practices and games will be driven by state, local, and university policies which will determine when students can practice and play on campus and fan attendance guidelines, though don’t expect fans to be allowed in Denver. In Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, gyms and health clubs are beginning to open back up while Illinois is currently at Phase 2 of a five-phase plan. Phase 3 is expected to be implemented next week and Phase 4, which would allow gatherings of up to 50 people, wouldn’t go into effect until 28 days later.

All Summit League Schools are expected to have on-campus learning in the fall, a basic requirement for athletic competition.

As we speculated before, several Summit League schools may be looking at dropping “one or two” sports – specifically, North Dakota State and South Dakota State AD’s mentioning the possibility publicly. In a surprising statement, Inforum reported that Commissioner Tom Douple said, “I think you’ll see some schools (plural) adding a sport or two as well,” he said.

It is nearly incomprehensible that schools might be adding athletic programs at this point in time, especially from the existing members. However, there could be a change in ‘mix’ as schools may drop more costly programs and add less costly programs. Title IX requirements may be driving a change as well.

As for DU gymnastics, DU is a member of the Big 12 and all schools expect to be in session on-campus this fall with athletics moving forward. The Big East will only play games if their campuses are open to students so DU Lacrosse, both men’s and women’s, will be dependent on the status of member schools.  Though hockey programs are beginning to cancel nonconference trips, the NCHC has unveiled the member school’s schedules for the 2020-2021 season and the league is expected to move forward, pending their respective university, local, and state requirements for students and fans.

Photo courtesy of DU Athletics

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