NCAA D-III Reduces Number Of Games Required For Championship Selection

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NCAA D-III Football teams will only need to compete in five games this season to be eligible for the postseason. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

The upcoming NCAA D-III sports season will look a bit different than usual due to the ongoing pandemic, which brought an end to multiple winter championships in March, along with numerous spring sports seasons.

Yesterday the Division III Administrative Committee approved the recommendation from the Division III Membership and Championships Committee to allow its various members to compete in fewer contests than usual this upcoming school year – 33 percent less than normal, to be exact – so they can be eligible to contend for a national title.

The reduction of contests will allow each institution to remain in compliance to compete for a championship but also provide flexibility for athletic departments when it comes to scheduling to “seeking relief in the form of waivers.”

“We hope that a reduction in contest minimums will provide flexibility to our member schools as they work to reopen during what is a very uncertain and complex time,” said Tori Murden McClure, the chair of the committee and Spalding president, in Friday’s release. “We understand this won’t fix everything for everyone, but we believe it is the right move at this time and we will remain flexible moving forward.”

The flexibility will certainly help schools when it comes to reopening – it is possible some schools could start earlier or later like a slew of Division I institutions announced this month, including Notre Dame and Syracuse University.

Football teams, including those here in New England, would only need to compete in five contests this fall to be eligible to compete in the NCAA D-III postseason while basketball teams will need to play 12 contests.

As of now, it appears fall championships will occur, but those plans could be altered due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Gov. Baker Paves The Way For Pro Sports To Return To Massachusetts

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker provided a glimmer of hope for live sports to return in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker clearly misses sports – we all know he is a proud supporter of our state’s hometown teams.

So on Friday, Baker announced that the state’s professional teams would be allowed to begin practicing as soon as Saturday, June 6. That is also the same date Massachusetts residents should learn more about the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which would begin Monday, June 8.

“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said during Friday’s press briefing. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Professional sports have been idle since mid-March when the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) paused their respective seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Since then, both leagues have been working diligently to find a way to restart their seasons safely in “hub cities.”

Major League Baseball (MLB) delayed the start of its 2020 season but continues to be stuck in neutral due to ongoing contract discussions between the players and owners.

Both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) have announced plans to return to the pitch in the coming weeks, which should excited local New England Revolution fans.

Baker believes live sports would certainly help all of us during this unprecedented time. Additionally, it would be a great outlet for many, who have been consuming older contests these past few weeks, including a 2007 playoff run by the Boston Red Sox on NESN.

“I think for all of us live sports, and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again because not only will it be a significant milestone for those of us who are fans but it will also send a big signal that we’ve continued to do all the things that we need to do to contain and control the virus,” said Baker.

Summer Baseball Remains A Possibility For The Intercity Baseball League (ICL)

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David Lightbody and the Alibrandis Baseball Club have competed in the Intercity Baseball League (ICL) since 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY:

By Matt Noonan 

There’s hope for the Intercity Baseball League (ICL) to play some games this summer.

The ICL Board of Directors announced Wednesday, May 27 that it’s possible an abbreviated season could begin no earlier than Monday, July 6, pending both the first and second phases of the Massachusetts reopening plan goes “as currently proposed.”

Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled the state’s reopening plan earlier this month which consisted of four phases. A new phase can begin every three weeks, but Baker and his staff have stressed that data will be the key with the reopening, so it is possible the first and second phases could be extended longer.

The ICL, which has provided its eight-team league with updates for the past few weeks, continued to stress safety as its main concern.

Pending a season does begin on Monday, July 6, the league’s regular-season schedule would feature fewer games, along with a double-elimination tournament instead of its usual postseason format, which consists of six teams.

The ICL Board of Directors will reconvene via Zoom for its next meeting on Tuesday, June 9 with hopes of more news for its teams, as well as its fans and spectators.

While Wednesday’s news should provide hope and optimism for those seeking some baseball to watch, a few other leagues are hoping to make a triumphant return to the diamond in the coming weeks.  Some leagues, including the Cape Cod Baseball League and New England Collegiate Baseball League, have canceled their respective seasons, while the Futures Collegiate Baseball League delayed the start of its season.

2020 Boston Marathon Canceled, Runners To Compete Virtually

440px-Boston_Marathon_logo.svgBy NoontimeSports.com  

The 2020 Boston Marathon will not be held in September. Instead, runners will be able to complete the 26.2-mile course virtually, according to the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.).

The news of the marathon being canceled was announced earlier today by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. It was then followed by a press release from the BAA, which announced the 124th running of the Boston Marathon would be held virtually.

“The Boston Athletic Association, with our input and support, has determined that the traditional one-day running of the 124th Boston Marathon is not feasible this year for public health reasons,” Walsh said during today’s press briefing.

Walsh noted the city is not ready to host an event like the Boston Marathon, which attracts not just runners, but fans that are standing in “close proximity” along the course.

Boston currently has 12,634 cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) but has seen 6,272 recovered.

Tom Grilk, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Athletic Association, expressed the organization’s top priority is protecting the safety of everyone, including the volunteers, spectators, and supporters.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Grilk said in today’s release.

Those who were scheduled to run the race will be offered a full refund of their entry fee, according to today’s announcement from the BAA. They will also be invited to participate in the virtual marathon, which will take place from September 7-14.

Today’s announcement marks the first time the Boston Marathon has been canceled.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Doesn’t Think Its Safe To Welcome Back Sports

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh doesn’t believe it is safe to welcome back pro sports to the city. (PHOTO COURTESY: Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

By Matt Noonan

There’s no doubt that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh would like to welcome back sports – he even said he would be willing to reopen Fenway Park and the TD Garden earlier this month with no fans. But as of this afternoon, Walsh believes its best to keep teams on the sidelines as the state and city slowly begin to reopen.

“As much as I would love to watch our pro teams play right now, we really have to put the health and safety of (the) Boston residents first,” Walsh said during his daily press briefing. “As I have said before, if pro teams (and) sports come back, it will be very different than what we’re used to.

“I don’t think right now we’re where in a place where we’ll have fans watching and cheering from the stands, (but) we also have to think about the health of the players and the players traveling from other places. Teams could look into things like temperature checks and testing to limit the spread amongst players and staff. Any proposals of teams will have to be matched with the proper health and safety protocol to make both staff and players feel comfortable with their plans.”

While Walsh’s announcement shouldn’t impact the Boston Celtics – if basketball were to resume, games would be held in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports – it could be an issue for the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox.

The NHL is planning to provide its fans with an update this afternoon about restarting games while the MLB is trying to get a deal done between its players and owners. And if a deal is reached, it’s likely the Red Sox would play home games in Fort Myers, not Boston.

“We’ll keep fans posted as soon as decisions are made,” said Walsh.

The Bruins and Celtics last played in Boston in early March while the Red Sox’s last home game occurred against the Baltimore Orioles on September 29, 2019.