While the Power 5 conferences (PAC-12, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC) remain steadfast in fall sports, many other smaller conferences have decided to cancel, postpone or push their fall sports into the winter or spring. If DU was to make such a move, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball would be the most impacted by such a move.
Less than two weeks after the Ivy League decided to cancel fall sports, five more collegiate conferences are shelving all or most intercollegiate athletic competition for the upcoming fall semester. And, bigger conferences are moving to conference-only games for football and other fall sports.
The Commonwealth Coast Conference Board of Directors announced what it described as “the extremely difficult decision to suspend CCC intercollegiate athletic competition for the Fall 2020 semester.” The Northeastern Athletic Conference unanimously determined that its eight-member institutions would not participate in intercollegiate athletic competition during the Fall 2020 season. The East Coast Conference voted to suspend all intercollegiate competition for the fall 2020 semester.
On Thursday, the Big East Conference updated plans for six 2020 fall sports. It did not cancel any sports outright, but it did limit them to intra-conference competition. The PAC-12 announced Friday that it would only schedule in-conference athletic events this fall for football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
The Summit League so far has been mum on the matter of fall sports but with over 90 collegiate soccer teams canceling or postponing play, DU’s non-conference contests are sure to be interrupted. And, DU hockey has already had to juggle their non-conference schedule by adding Arizona State to the schedule in place of its scheduled season-opening trip to Wisconsin, though that change had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The best guess at this point is the Summit League will likely move to conference games only for fall sports. As for the Summit League’s 6-team men’s soccer conference, they will likely play each other twice as opposed to the current 1-game conference format and then host a tournament at the end of the regular season. Summit League women’s soccer fields eight teams so it may be difficult to shoe-horn all their matches into a home-and-away condensed spring season along with an NCAA Tournament-deciding conference tournament weekend. The same goes for nine volleyball teams in the Summit League. Will they have the space to play each other twice and host a Summit League tournament? These are the decisions the summit league must be contemplating as other conferences peel away from their fall sports.
Hockey could be directly impacted as well – all conferences are remaining silent on the fate of the hockey season for now – with three non-conference weekend series and two NCHC sets scheduled before January 1st. Basketball usually starts early November but the men’s and women’s squads could move to a ‘conference games only’ format beginning January 1st along with hockey. Even with a schedule delay, there may be no widely available vaccine to halt the spread of COVID-19 so even that option may not be effective.
The Summit League will likely address fall sports scheduling in the coming days or weeks as teams are trying to finalize their fall schedules and travel plans with the school and athletic year around the corner.