The USA South Athletic Conference announced that it is postponing fall sports competition due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The presidents of the USA South voted unanimously to postpone all fall sports conference competition until the spring 2021 semester.
The USA South sports impacted are football, men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, men's cross country, and women's cross country. Covenant will not participate in outside competition in those sports or in men's tennis, women's tennis, and golf during the fall semester.
The decision was made in light of several factors, including the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases throughout the USA South's geographical footprint.
Other major factors include the availability, cost, and feasibility of adequate and consistent testing for student-athletes.
"We are supportive of the decision by the USA South Athletic Conference, as we seek to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes," Covenant director of athletics Dr. Tim Sceggel said. "However, we are still looking forward to having student-athletes on campus this fall as they will be able to practice with their teams per NCAA legislation."
"While our member institutions maintain the freedom to address athletics as they see best on their individual campuses this fall, the NCAA recommendations especially related to testing that came out recently were a real game-changer for our 18 conference schools collectively," detailed Dr. Tom Hart, USA South Commissioner. "We will begin work immediately to develop a strategic plan that allows for fall conference sports competition to return in some capacity in the spring provided public health conditions improve in the coming months."
The NCAA recently passed a waiver that will allow for all student-athletes in all sports to practice and participate in other athletically-related activities in the fall.
"Although student-athletes will not be able to compete this fall, we are excited they still will have an opportunity to grow as athletes through practice, and grow as men and women of the King as our coaches remain committed to our discipleship efforts in the context of college athletics," added Sceggel.
Any further announcements from the USA South regarding the 2020-21 academic season will be announced later.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which USA South sports are affected by this announcement?
Football, men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, men's cross country, and women's cross country. Covenant will not participate in outside competition in those sports or in men's tennis, women's tennis, and golf during the fall semester. Men's and women's basketball currently are not included.
Is there still an opportunity to practice or play contests in the fall?
Yes. The NCAA recently passed a waiver that will allow for all student-athletes in all sports to practice and participate in other athletically-related activities in the fall.
How is eligibility affected by this announcement?
Student-athletes are permitted to practice without losing a year of eligibility. Additionally, the NCAA passed a blanket waiver detailing that student-athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50% or less of the sport's maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More details can be found HERE.
Will these postponed games be played in the spring and will there be conference championships?
It is the intention of the USA South to formulate plans to play as many contests as feasible for the sports mentioned above within the spring semester and conduct championship competition. To assist with this goal, the NCAA recently approved a waiver that provides institutions with flexibility in their sport seasons during 2020-21. This waiver allows schools to count their playing seasons in 114 days instead of a specified number of consecutive weeks. Any hopes of spring participation continue to depend on improvements of external factors related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Will NCAA Championships for Division III fall sports be conducted? If so, will they be in the fall or spring semester?
The NCAA Board of Governors is currently considering this matter. In a letter to the NCAA BOG, the NCAA Division III Management Council recommended that fall championships be cancelled.
When will decisions regarding men's and women's basketball or the spring sport seasons be made?
The leadership within the USA South will now shift its focus towards the sports of men's and women's basketball while keeping a watchful eye on the spring sports. Any decisions and progress will be dependent on public health mandates of each institution and state, in addition to the NCAA and its guidelines.