The following is from a release from the NAIA regarding the postponement of the fall sports championships to the spring season.

The Council of Presidents voted today to postpone the NAIA football national championship until spring 2021. This decision comes on the heels of the COP voting on Tuesday to postpone all other fall sport championships until the spring. This decision still allows NAIA conferences the flexibility to play their regular season in the fall, winter, or spring.

During the July 28 COP meeting, it was determined that football required additional attention since the sport often operates outside of the regular conference structure. The additional time was to allow COP members to have adequate opportunity to gain feedback from their respective colleagues before voting.

Moving all the fall championships to spring is the most inclusive option for our members, especially those schools that are not able to participate in athletics this fall. By moving the championships to spring, student-athletes at these schools will have the possibility of participating in a national championship.

This decision also allows the greatest autonomy to our institutions in regards to scheduling and because of that flexibility, sports will be able to extend their maximum number of contests back to the original number allowed, if they so choose.

These decisions are unprecedented, which makes it difficult to foresee all the consequences that will need to be addressed. Know that we are working as quickly as possible with the various governance groups to establish updated processes and protocols that will best support our student-athletes. Thank you for your patience as we navigate this new terrain and we will update you as soon as information is available.

Please understand this is a fluid situation as we will continue to have updates for you when we learn more. As of right now the schedule for the fall stands as is but could very well change. Please stay tuned for more updates in the following weeks.

On Tuesday, after reviewing feedback from conferences and committees, the COP voted to postpone the national championships in cross country, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball to spring 2021, allowing NAIA conferences to compete in the fall and winter, if they so choose.

Given the fast-paced and constantly-changing nature of the current environment, the COP recognized that the likelihood of safely completing the fall sports season has decreased significantly. The decision increases flexibility by permitting a current, split, or entirely postponed regular season, all of which can precede postseason play.

In light of this decision, the COP also opted to provide more flexibility in its current testing mandate of requiring a PCR test of all fall student-athletes seven days prior to competition. The types of viral testing, their availability and cost, the turn-around times involved, and the local or regional public stances regarding testing vary greatly across the county. Given this variability and complexity, the NAIA determined it was inappropriate to require a single testing protocol for all its members. Rather, the NAIA strongly recommends that individual conferences and institutions consider very carefully the best way to deploy COVID testing to support the safe return to athletics.

Prior to the COP’s vote, 51 NAIA institutions have already opted to postpone fall competition until spring 2021.

We realize there are a wide range of considerations that come with postponing fall championships. 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. This process will be similar to how the NAIA handled the cancellation of spring sports and the ACT/SAT accommodations made for student-athletes this summer.

We are developing FAQs related to the fall season postponement. Please email any questions to covid19info@naia.org.

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