Basketball Notebook: Sheldon Announces Retirement From Tufts University

Bob Sheldon, who has coached the Tufts University men’s basketball team for three decades, announced his retirement Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: TuftsNow)

By Matt Noonan 

Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regarding an update on the upcoming winter sports season, which has been canceled, Bob Sheldon, who has guided the Tufts University men’s basketball team for the past 33 years, announced he will be stepping down effectively on Thursday, December 31, 2020. 

Matt Malone, who has been an assistant under Sheldon for the past 15 years, will take over as the interim coach, according to Wednesday’s (Oct. 7) release from the Tufts University athletic department

Sheldon and the Jumbos matched a program record for wins (23) this past winter while capturing their first-ever NESCAC Tournament Championship by outlasting Colby College in double-overtime

“I was getting near the end of my career as it was, and then when Covid came up and the craziness with that, I just felt that it was time for me to go,” said Sheldon, via the Tufts athletic department story, which can be seen (and read) on the school’s athletic website. 

Sheldon noted he “went back and forth” with his decision to retire, but seems content with his choice to leave a program that he believes is in “a good spot going forward.” 

Prior to their season concluding earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tufts won a pair of NCAA D-III Tournament games in Medford, including a come-from-behind win over Western Connecticut in the opening round. 

Sheldon, who is the program’s all-time winningest coach, would have entered his team’s 2020-21 season as one of the Top 25 NCAA D-III winningest coaches after being named the NESCAC and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Northeast Region Coach of the Year in March. 

The 2020-21 NESCAC winter sports season has been canceled: As noted above, the NESCAC became the first New England D-III conference to cancel its upcoming winter sports season on Thursday, October 7, after postponing its fall season on Friday, July 10

While health and safety were stressed in yesterday’s release regarding the decision by the conference’s presidents, the NESCAC did note that some of their schools have made “significant modifications” to their current academic calendar, which would limit the number of games each program would be able to compete in.  

The NESCAC has made no announcement regarding spring sports – an update will most likely come in a few months – but the conference did say the league’s 11 schools could schedule non-conference games if they choose to. However, D3Sports.com has reported that some schools within the conference have already made decisions for its various winter sports programs, including Middlebury College, which announced yesterday that they “will not hold any athletic competitions during the winter season.” 

Elms College to join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC): While it is uncertain if and when Elms College will resume athletic competition in the next few weeks or months, the athletic department did announce some exciting news earlier this week about joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) for the 2022-23 school year. 

The Blazers currently compete in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) and would join a former member of the eight-team league – that would be Dean College – which joined the GNAC as a full-time member at the start of the current academic year (2020-21)

Both Elms College basketball teams competed last winter in the NECC Tournament with the women’s squad advancing to the conference championship game against Mitchell College

The GNAC has welcomed a few new schools to its conference over the past few years, including Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts in 2017, and Colby-Sawyer in 2018. 

NCAA D-III Presidents Council Cancels Fall Sports Championships

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Photo Courtesy: NCAA D-III Twitter

By Matt Noonan 

There will be no fall sports championships for any NCAA D-III member for the upcoming academic year.

In a statement posted (and seen) on the NCAA D-III Twitter handle earlier today, the President’s Council officially put an end to any thought or hope of fall championships due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The announcement follows a previous announcement from the NCAA Board of Governors from earlier today, which “directed each division to make a decision on its fall championships.”

“Looking at the health and safety challenges we face this fall during this unprecedented time, we had to make this tough decision to cancel championships for fall sports this academic year in the best interest of our student-athletes and member institutions,” said Tori Murden McClure, who is the chair of the President’s Council and president at Spalding, in a statement.

McClure did add that the championship committee “reviewed the financial and logistical ramifications” for having fall sports championships moved to next spring, but realized ” it was logistically untenable and financially prohibitive.” This would mean the next time any of us see a D-III football game won’t be until 2021.

As of now, the hope, according to McClure, is to provide both the winter and spring student-athletes with a championship experience that they did not endure earlier this year when both seasons abruptly concluded in mid-March.

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).

NCAA Unveils Nine-Step & Three Phase Plan To Bring Back Sports

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The NCAA unveiled its nine-step and three-phase plan that will help institutions across the country to get their student-athletes back on the playing field. (PHOTO COURTESY: Pilot MKN on Visualhunt / CC BY)

By NoontimeSports.com

The NCAA unveiled a nine-step and three-phase plan on Friday that should help schools in all three divisions with returning their various teams to the playing field. But don’t expect every school and team to return immediately.

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.

D3 Basketball: Women’s Top 10 Poll (Monday, March 17th, 2020)

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation

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 CollegeRhode 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 


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