The vast majority of NCAA schools will now have no fall sports championships, as Division II and Division III announced Wednesday that those events were canceled for 2020. In those divisions, the NCAA puts on a football championship. (The major Division I football schools hold a championship outside of the NCAA.)
DII cited “operational, logistical and financial” problems caused by the coronavirus, and it’s likely not a coincidence that the health challenge was barely mentioned. The Division I men’s basketball NCAA Tournament television contract provides a significant source of funding for NCAA championships across the three divisions, and March Madness was completely canceled this year.
DIII, which has the most schools of the three divisions, had already seen nearly all of its conferences cancel fall sports. Eleven of the 23 DII conferences had canceled, and the remaining conferences in both divisions can compete if they choose.
The fall sports in those two divisions are men’s and women’s soccer and cross country, plus football, field hockey, women’s volleyball and men’s water polo.
As an organization, the NCAA is putting new meaning into kicking the can. On Wednesday, they were supposed to make a decision on fall sports; instead, they left it to divisions and conferences. With no lucrative football television contracts on the line, DII and DIII made the obvious decision. DI athletes are left holding the fig leaf for football, although the NCAA has said that if 50% of teams cancel their season in a given sport, that championship is canceled.
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