Speaking on Thursday about the state of college athletics amid college football's top conferences bowing out, NCAA president Mark Emmert said there will be no fall championships in 2020 for all NCAA Division I sports.
The NCAA does not govern FBS college football, leaving its immediate future still uncertain.
“We cannot now, at this point, have fall NCAA championships because there’s not enough schools participating,” Emmert said. “The Board of Governors said, ‘If you don’t have half of the schools playing a sport, you can’t have a legitimate championship.’…sadly, tragically, that’s going to be the case this fall, full stop.”
Emmert said the NCAA will now attempt to figure out a way for fall sports to be played in the spring. Fall sport athletes will continue to be able to train and practice during the time when they'd normally be playing their seasons.
"I’ve been talking to all the commissioners in Division I, and there are ways to do this. I’m completely confident that we can figure this out. If schools and conferences want to move forward, let’s do it," Emmert said. "We can use the fall to keep kids healthy, keep them engaged with their coaches and their athletic departments, focus on their academic success, and let them practice and stay ready to play. Then let’s go compete at that time.”
Among the ideas being discussed is having fall sports play in early 2021 in isolated bubble-like formats. Emmert said the priority, though, will be to ensure that winter and spring sports can be played as planned, especially in light of last season's championship cancellations.
“We have to give highest priority to the winter and spring sports, because they lost their championships last March. We made that horrible, awful but necessary choice to shut down," Emmert said. "...But then, when we look at it, if we modify the model, which we need to do anyway because of the virus, if we shrink the bracket sizes and do everything in predetermined sites instead of running kids around the country—move to bubble or semi-bubble models—there’s a way to do it. Will it be normal? Of course not…but is it doable? Yeah.”
The SEC released a statement later in the day saying the conference will review how the NCAA's decision will impact its fall sports (soccer, volleyball and cross-country).
“Our soccer, volleyball and cross-country student-athletes are working hard to prepare for their seasons and they have been diligent in taking personal health precautions and following protocols around COVID-19,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “We will support them in every way possible as we evaluate the impact of these cancellations on their fall sports seasons.”