NCAA Division II, Division III Fall Championships Canceled - Sports Illustrated

NCAA's Division II, Division III Fall Championships Canceled


The NCAA's Division II Presidents Council announced on Wednesday the cancellation of all Division II fall championships amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Division III Presidents Council announced the same decision earlier on Wednesday.

"With the health and safety of the division’s student-athletes, coaches, athletics administrators and communities as its priority, the Division III Presidents Council made the decision Wednesday to cancel the championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related administrative and financial challenges," the NCAA said in a statement.

“Looking at the health and safety challenges we face this fall during this unprecedented time, we had to make this tough decision to cancel championships for fall sports this academic year in the best interest of our student-athlete and member institutions,” Tori Murden McClure, chair of the Presidents Council and president at Spalding, said in an official statement.

Earlier Wednesday, the NCAA announced that an Aug. 21 deadline has been set for the three NCAA divisions to make final decisions on whether fall sports seasons and national championships will be held this year.

The announcement included requirements for schools to establish a hotline for COVID-19 violations. In addition, all student-athletes will be allowed to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns and will have their athletic scholarships honored if they choose to do so.

The D-III decision to cancel its fall championships comes after the D-III Management Council recommended last month that the board should cancel this year's Division III fall championships. Several Division II and Division III schools have already nixed their fall sports seasons, as well as the FCS's Patriot League. Their decisions raise more questions about what will happen across Division I sports, particularly football.

The board has the authority to suspend NCAA championships but not the FBS postseason. The 10 FBS conferences—rather than the NCAA—control the College Football Playoff. On Saturday, Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger reported that the Power 5 have begun exploring the possibility of staging their own championships if the NCAA Board of Governors ends up canceling or postponing fall ones.

While no Power 5 schools have canceled their fall seasons, all conferences have dramatically overhauled their football schedules. The SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten will play a 10-game, conference-only football model this fall. The SEC and Pac-12 have released their matchups, while the Big Ten has yet to do so. The ACC chose a slightly different model with an 11-game season featuring 10 conference games and one non-conference matchup.

On Monday, the Big 12 approved a scheduling model with nine conference games and one non-conference game.

There's also been debate over pushing the college football season to spring, which creates additional worries over player safety, the 2021 fall football schedule and the impact on players heading to the NFL. 

Numerous players across college football have voiced their concerns about playing this fall amid the pandemic, including members at the FCS' Idaho who reportedly are worried about the "unknown long-term impact of COVID-19." Over the weekend, a group of Pac-12 football players from several schools threatened to opt out this season if their list of demands were not met by the conference. Their list included racial injustice, player safety amid the coronavirus pandemic and financial compensation. Several SEC players also expressed their safety concerns on a recent call with conference leaders.

A few Division I players, including Illinois running back Ra'Von Bonner, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley and Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, have already opted out either due to COVID-19 concerns or to declare for next year's NFL draft.