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).
The NCAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Panel, which is led by Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline, shared its “Resocializiation in Sports” plan which considers multiple factors with getting student-athletes back on the field from federal recommendations to data and science to input from experts that “puts the health, safety, and well-being of student-athletes and the needs of the membership first.”
“It is also important to take into consideration that there will not be a quick, single day of re-emergence into society,” Hainline said in this afternoon’s release, which can be found on NCAA.org.
“We will re-emerge in a manner that recognizes COVID-19 will be around until there is an effective vaccine, treatment or both. That is why resocialization should be rolled out in a phased way that helps assure sustained low infection spread, as well as aids in the ability to quickly diagnose and isolate new cases.”
As Hainline noted and outlined in the nine-step process, for colleges and universities to be successful with getting their teams and student-athletes back on the field, they must have plans in place for testing, temperature checking, contact tracing, and isolating. Schools would also need an ample amount of protective equipment.
Dan Dutcher, who is the vice president of NCAA Division III, provided some insight into this plan on a brand new “Noontime Nation” Podcast, which can be heard on both iTunes and Spotify.
TheTufts University women’s basketball team secured the top spot in our final New England D-III Top 10 Poll with an impressive 28-1 record, including a perfect 10-0 regular-season mark against New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) foes.
Bowdoin College and Amherst College secured the second and third positions, respectively, while Eastern Connecticut checked-in fourth for the second time this month. The Warriors captured the Little East Conference (LEC) tournament title this season and came close to advancing to the third round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.
Williams College moved-up one spot, checking-in fifth while Smith College ended its season in the sixth position after advancing to the program’s first-ever “Sweet 16.” Prior to winning back-to-back NCAA Tournament games earlier this month, the Pioneers captured their first-ever New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship.
Western New England concludes its season in the seventh position followed by Babson College, Rhode Island College, and Springfield College.
New England D-III Basketball Women’s Top 10 Week 15 Poll| Monday, March 17th, 2020
1. Tufts University
28-1, 10-0 NESCAC
Previously No. 1
2. Bowdoin College
27-2, 8-2 NESCAC
Previously No. 2
3. Amherst College
24-4, 8-2 NESCAC
Previously No. 3
4. Eastern Connecticut
24-5, 14-2 LEC
Previously No. 4
5. Williams College
20-8, 6-4 NESCAC
Previously No. 6
6. Smith College
26-4, 7-3 NEWMAC
Previously No. 8
7. Western New England
21-6, 14-2 CCC
Previously No. 5
8. Babson College
18-8, 10-0 NEWMAC
Previously No. 9
9. Rhode Island College
22-5, 13-3 LEC
Previously No. 7
10. Springfield College
19-8, 9-1 NEWMAC
Previously No. 10
ON THE RISE: Emmanuel College, Endicott College, Framingham State, UMass Boston, and University of New England