The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Council of Presidents (COP) voted on Tuesday, July 28 to postpone the national championships in cross country, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball to spring 2021. This decision still allows NAIA conferences to compete in the fall and winter, if they so choose. The timing of the football national championship will be determined at a subsequent COP meeting on Friday, July 31. Due to unique challenges surrounding football, COP members decided they needed more time to obtain feedback from their colleagues.
“Given the fast-paced and constantly-changing nature of the current environment, the COP recognized that the likelihood of safely completing the fall sports season has decreased significantly,” said Dr. Arvid Johnson, COP Chair and University of St. Francis President. “This decision allows conferences to consider the regional impact of COVID-19 when determining the appropriate time for regular season competition.”
Prior to the COP’s vote, 51 NAIA individual institutions had already opted to postpone fall competition until spring 2021.
“The NAIA realizes there are a wide range of considerations that come with postponing fall championships,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “However, our first priority is making sure our student-athletes are not penalized by this decision. That will likely require temporary rule changes and accommodations as related to eligibility and seasons of competition, which the NAIA governance groups will begin further defining this week.”
In March 2020, the NAIA cancelled the spring 2020 sport season due to gathering restrictions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Consequently, no spring 2020 athlete was charged a season of competition.
“This decision exemplifies the COP placing a priority on institutional and conference autonomy while acting in the best interest of the association,” said Carr. “We are fortunate to have dedicated leadership across our shared governance groups who are passionate about supporting our student-athletes’ safety and overall experience.”