The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced a radical shift in how the sports calendar will look for the 2020-21 academic school year.
Football, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country will all transition into being spring sports for next year, while men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis will be permitted to compete against only conference opponents this fall.
Football, volleyball, soccer and cross country have been categorized as high-risk or medium-risk for transmitting COVID-19, while cross country and golf are considered low-risk sports. Schools will have until Aug. 14 to announce their intention to participate in the fall golf season and conference championship.
“Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of students and staff,” said Paul Pribbenow, chair of the MIAC Presidents’ Council and Augsburg University president, in a press release. “The decision to postpone competition for many of our fall sports was very difficult, as we know how much our student-athletes want to compete and how important athletics are to each of our campuses, but we need to put ourselves in a position to return to play as safely as possible.”
Carleton has previously announced it will not be competing in a fall sports season.
According to a press release from the MIAC and St. Olaf, schedules for the sports shifting to the fall are still being determined. Traditionally, cross country and track and field share numerous athletes who will now compete in simultaneous seasons under the new model.
Practice and other athletic activities will still be permitted for all teams this fall, as long as they follow health and safety rules set by NCAA Division III, as well as campus and state regulations.
“We are supportive of the decision made by the MIAC presidents to postpone fall sports until the spring,” St. Olaf Athletic Director Ryan Bowles said in the press release. “The health and safety of our community is our priority, and decisions like this are never easy though sometimes necessary. I am hopeful that our fall student-athletes will still have a meaningful experience competing this spring, and I am happy that our student-athletes, in particular our seniors, will have another opportunity to play the sports they love.”
The release also mentioned the conference is continuing to evaluate opportunities to play a winter sports season.