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).
Joey Rogers started 23 games for the UMass Boston baseball team from 2017 to 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY: UMass Boston Athletics)
Joey Rogers cherished every moment with the UMass Boston baseball team.
From his initial season with the Beacons in 2017 to just a handful of games earlier this year, the Dighton, Massachusetts native says he will look back fondly on his time with the Blue and White, which averaged 37 wins from 2017 to 2019.
“I will cherish all of the time and hard work we put in as a team during the offseason,” said Rogers, who appeared in 31 games with the Beacons.
“We pushed each other every single day in the weight room and on the field to get better, and ultimately achieve another championship.”
Rogers and the Beacons won quite a few championships these past few years. In fact, they won a trio of Little East Conference (LEC) Tournament titles while making a pair of appearances in the D-III College World Series (2017 and 2019).
The left-handed pitcher won ten games for the Beacons while recording 111 strikeouts. He concluded his career with a 3.90 earned run average and made 55 plate appearances where he recorded eight runs nine hits, one home run, and six RBI.
We recently spoke with Rogers to discuss his career and time spent with the UMass Boston baseball team, as well as where he is headed after graduation later this spring.
Was there a game (or two) that you will remember most from either your senior season or the past three years? If so, which games are they?
Winning the NCAA D-III Super Regional Championship during my junior year. The atmosphere during the three-game series was unreal. We had so much support from friends and family, and it was very special to win a championship in front of them while sharing a very cool moment with my teammates.
Also, I will always remember winning the New England D-III Regional Championship my first season with the Beacons. Again, it was another memorable moment for my teammates and me. We competed for the title on Cape Cod against some of the best teams in New England.
Both wins sent us to the College World Series, which were played at different locations. But being able to compete on the national stage was unbelievable.
What have you enjoyed most about competing for the UMass Boston baseball program these past four years? What will you miss most after graduation?
I am grateful for the opportunity that Coach (Brendan) Eygabroat has given me. I’ll cherish the time spent with this program for the rest of my life. I’ll also look back fondly on time spent with teammates, both on and off the field.
The relationships that I built, along with the team chemistry we established was a big part of our success. I will miss running out on that field after graduation, but I am so happy I got to play a game I absolutely love for the past four years.
Do you hope to stay involved with your sport in the future? Any interest in being a coach?
I am planning to pursue a career in the United States Army as an officer after graduation, but I could see myself coaching this game I love in the future.
Tell me about your major. How did you choose it and what do you plan to do with it after graduation?
I majored in exercise and health science because I have always been interested in athletics and sports from a young age. I also like helping others achieve their fitness goals, which is something that interested me in studying this particular topic.
I have been fortunate to gain a slew of real-life experience these past four years through internships with Geoff Ebbs, who is our athletic department’s strength and conditioning coach. The internship taught me so much in regard to exercise science to programming as well as coaching and teaching athletes proper techniques.
Following graduation, I will be joining the United States Army – I was accepted into the Officer Candidate School.
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.