Presidents of the USA South Athletic Conference have voted unanimously to postpone all fall sport conference competition until the spring 2021 semester, the organization announced Tuesday.
Impacted sports include football, men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, men's cross country, and women's cross country.
Maryville College in Blount County is part of the USA South Athletic Conference.
On their website, the organization said "this decision was made in light of several factors, including the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases throughout the USA South's geographical footprint."
Other major factors include the availability, cost, and feasibility of adequate and consistent testing for student athletes.
"While our member institutions maintain the freedom to address athletics as they see best on their individual campuses this fall, the NCAA recommendations especially related to testing that came out recently were a real game changer for our 18 conference schools collectively," detailed Dr. Tom Hart, USA South Commissioner. "We will begin work immediately to develop a strategic plan that allows for fall conference sports competition to return in some capacity in the spring provided public health conditions improve in the coming months."
Any further announcements from the USA South regarding the 2020-21 academic season will be shared on USASouth.net.
The conference also released a set of Frequently Asked Questions:
Which USA South sports are affected by this announcement?
Football, Men's Soccer, Women's Soccer, Volleyball, Men's Cross Country, and Women's Cross Country. Men's and Women's Basketball currently are not included.
How are the sports of golf and tennis affected by this announcement?
The USA South does not have formal schedules for golf and tennis during the fall semester. Institutions will make their own decisions on how these "low-risk" sports are conducted.
Is there still opportunity to practice or play contests in the fall?
Yes. The NCAA recently passed a waiver that will allow for all student-athletes in all sports to practice and/or participate in outside competition. Per that NCAA ruling, these decisions shall be made on an institution-by-institution basis. Any games played against outside competition during the fall semester will not be scheduled by the USA South and will not be considered "conference" contests.
How is eligibility affected by this announcement?
Student-athletes are permitted to practice without losing a year of eligibility. Additionally, the NCAA passed a blanket waiver detailing that student-athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50% or less of the sport's maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More details can be found HERE.
Will these postponed games be played in the spring and will there be Conference championships?
It is the intention of the USA South to formulate plans to play as many contests as feasible for the sports mentioned above within the spring semester and conduct championship competition. To assist with this goal, the NCAA recently approved a waiver that provides institutions with flexibility in their sport seasons during 2020-21. This waiver allows schools to count their playing seasons in 114 days instead of a specified number of consecutive weeks. Any hopes of spring participation continue to depend on improvements of external factors related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Will NCAA Championships for Division III fall sports be conducted? If so, will they be in the fall or spring semester?
The NCAA Board of Governors is currently considering this matter. In a letter to the NCAA BOG, the NCAA Division III Management Council recommended that fall championships be canceled.
When will decisions regarding men's and women's basketball or the spring sport seasons be made?
The leadership within the USA South will now shift its focus towards the sports of men's and women's basketball while keeping a watchful eye on the spring sports. Any decisions and progress will be dependent on public health mandates of each institution and state, in addition to the NCAA and its guidelines.
Are there more resources to learn about NCAA updates or how specific institutional decisions will be made?
Institutional athletic departments (athletic director, head coach, website) can be used as resources when inquiring about how these decisions affect their specific athletic and/or academic situations. Additionally, the NCAA has a COVID-19 update page which can be accessed HERE.