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College Athletics: NAIA Council of Presidents moves fall championships to spring
College Athletics

College Athletics: NAIA Council of Presidents moves fall championships to spring

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Pacific Union College cross country

Pacific Union College freshman Justin Roosma, green jersey, leads the pack at the California Pacific Conference Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 1, 2019.

The Council of Presidents of the NAIA have agreed to move the national championships of cross country, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s soccer from fall 2020 to spring 2021.

The move was in response to an increasing number of institutions and conferences, including the California Pacific Conference, that had determined to defer fall sports into 2021.

“We appreciate the swift response of the NAIA in this matter,” said Cal Pac commissioner Don Ott. “The health and safety of our student-athletes is the top priority, and we believed it was unlikely we could complete the fall seasons given the ever-changing pandemic and the uncertainty of approval from state and local authorities.”

Since specific dates for the championships have not been announced yet, the conference must wait to reset its schedules in the affected sports. The Cal Pac had already adjusted soccer and volleyball schedules to a more regionalized approach to minimize travel, cost and exposure if the fall season had been played.

The NAIA decision also gives conferences in other parts of the country the autonomy to compete in the fall if they so desire and are able. Only the national championships have moved.

“We still have much work to do on this,” Ott admitted. “Now we wait for the NAIA’s dates, then we can adjust our schedules to determine our national representatives. We are hoping to avoid a complete overlap in sports that must share facilities. This decision also helps our institutions which use rented courts and fields, as those spaces were largely closed due to health restrictions.”

The Cal Pac’s 15 member institutions are in California, Nevada, and Arizona, some of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus. The varied academic schedules and specific needs of the unique institutions also come into play with rescheduling.

“Our Directors Council will have to wrestle with a lot of compacted events, but hopefully we’ll have a very busy, exciting, meaningful spring season with all 15 of our championships taking place between February and May.”

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