On Tuesday, July 28, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Council of Presidents voted to delay the national championships in cross country, men and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball to Spring of 2021.
Although the championships have been postponed, teams will still be allowed to compete in regular season games during the fall of 2020. On July 19, the Heart of America Athletic Conference announced they would be participating in fall athletics with all sports starting on September 5 except for football. Football is scheduled to begin the following week on September 12.
Due to unique challenges surrounding football and needed to gather more information before making a decision. The COP met on Friday and came to the decision to make football the fifth fall sport to have the championship moved to the spring. The regular season is still planned for the fall.
Not all teams in the NAIA plan on having fall sports. So far, 51 NAIA individual institutions have opted to postpone fall competition until Spring 2021.
In a press release on Tuesday, NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr spoke on student athlete safety and how the NAIA would be flexible.
“The NAIA realizes there are a wide range of considerations that come with postponing fall championships,” said 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.”
When the NAIA cancelled spring athletics, athletes were not charged with a season of competition. The same policy will be upheld in the fall for athletes that do not compete.
“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.”