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.
“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.
Today’s announcement follows previous decisions made by other conferences and schools, including Bowdoin College which was the first member of the NESCAC to cancel its fall sports season, while also delaying the start of its winter sports season until next January.
Amherst College and Williams College also announced recently that none of their respective fall sports programs would be competing this year, including the both football teams that have been competing in the ‘Biggest Little Game’ since 1884.
The NESCAC cited “the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community the foremost concern” with making the decision to cancel the fall sports season for its 11 members, along with its seven championships they sponsor.
Middlebury College, which captured last year’s NESCAC Field Hockey championship, defeated Franklin & Marshall in the national title game while Tufts University captured the NCAA D-III men’s championship with a 2-0 win over Amherst College.
Middlebury and Tufts have yet to cancel or suspend their respective fall sports programs as of this afternoon.
According to D3Playbook.com, the NESCAC is not the first D-III conference to either cancel or suspend fall sports. The Centennial Conference (CC) announced earlir this week that none of their schools would play fall sports, including football, while a few conferences hope to play only league games this fall.
Some college athletic folks seem more pessimistic than optimistic about having football games on campus this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
By Matt Noonan
It may be late June, but the thought of college sports taking place this fall, specifically in New England seems hard to fathom due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Sure, the numbers and data seem to be trending in the right direction in all six New England states, but before a slew of major announcements occurs next month, two schools have already announced plans to forgo the upcoming fall sports season.
Does this mean the Beacons of UMass Boston won’t be playing until this winter or next spring? Possibly, but as Newman said in today’s update about the fall semester, “If there were a way to make a different decision in a manner that we feel is responsible, we surely would. Sadly, the virus is spreading amongst athletes in states that have opened up. We don’t want that to happen to our Beacons. “
Indeed, the virus has impacted a slew of NCAA D-I schools and programs, including Clemson University and Louisiana State University (LSU). Additionally, it was reported lasted week that Kansas State had to press pause on its voluntary workouts for14 days due to some student-athletes testing positive.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus is here to stay – most likely, we won’t resume a sense of normalcy until a vaccine is developed, but it is expected that more news of positive tests and schools forgoing fall sports to keep their students – and yes, their student-athletes safe – will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
Rooting for schools to be open so students can return to campus is something we should all want, especially during such unprecedented times.
But unfortunately, this virus does not take vacations and will certainly continue to be with us when school bells begin to ring in late August and early September, which means it won’t be easy for football, soccer, field hockey, and volleyball games to be played this fall.
Frank Stola and the Williams College football team will be one of the favorites in the NESCAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)
Our WAY too early New England D-III football preseason coverage rolls on with some predictions on who we think will win their respective conference this season.
Yes, we know these are VERY early predictions and they will certainly change once we get closer to kick-off, but for now, enjoy some way too early thoughts (from your friends at Noontime Sports) on who we think will celebrate a conference championship in November.
Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC)
Predicted Winner(s): Endicott College or Western New England
Teams to Watch: Husson University, Nichols College, and Salve Regina University
Quick Synopsis: Yes, we know the Gulls and Golden Bears will be the teams to watch this fall, but don’t overlook Husson, Nichols, and Salve Regina as these three teams that will certainly challenge Endicott and Western New England for the CCC crown. Western New England has won the conference the last three years while Endicott has come close the past two seasons to snatching the title from its rival.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)
Predicted Winner: Dean College
Teams to Watch: Maritime (N.Y.)
Quick Synopsis: With a 4-1 conference mark, the Bulldogs were able to win their first-ever ECFC title last fall, so expect that momentum to continue one year later. Maritime (N.Y.) will also be a team to watch this season, while the other ECFC teams should provide challenges to both the Bulldogs and Privateers.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)
Predicted Winner(s): Framingham State or UMass Dartmouth
Teams to Watch: Bridgewater State and Western Connecticut
Quick Synopsis: The Rams of Framingham State have enjoyed a great deal of success the past few years, but could this be the year of the Corsairs? With quarterback Stephen Gacioch leading the UMass Dartmouth offense this fall, expect the Corsairs to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the MASCAC.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)
Predicted Winner(s): Wesleyan University or Williams College
Teams to Watch: Middlebury College, Trinity College, and Tufts University
Quick Synopsis: As of now it seems as if this conference could be a two-team or five-team race for the NESCAC crown. Williams will welcome back an impressive senior class that should help them overcome the challenges to secure their first outright title since 2008. Keep your eyes on Trinity and Tufts – these two teams could play spoiler – and, of course, don’t overlook the Cardinals of Wesleyan, who will return some impressive talent on both sides of the ball.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)
Predicted Winner: MIT
Teams to Watch: Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, and Springfield College
Quick Synopsis: Coach Brian Bubna and the Engineers have won back-to-back NEWMAC championships so it is hard to pick against MIT, which will once again be one of a few teams to watch in this conference. The Bears of Coast Guard Academy could also be a team that takes that next step, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine and Springfield College. Also, let’s not count out WPI, which did graduate a big senior class, but will carry over some momentum from its 10 win season.
Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak will be one of many players to watch on the Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)
Our early New England D-III football coverage has begun with our ‘Way Too Early‘ Top 20 Poll – what did you think?
Now, it is time to dig a bit deeper and highlight a few teams we believe fans should watch (and keep their eyes on) once the season officially kicks-off in a few months.
Dean College: After winning their first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title last November, the Bulldogs enter the 2020 season with a great deal of momentum. Sure, their 2019 campaign concluded with a difficult loss to the Gulls of Endicott College in the New England Bowl, but with a slew of starters expected to return this fall, including quarterback Terrell Watts, wide receiver Errol Breaux, and defensive end Wadell Alceus, don’t expect these Bulldogs to take a step backward.
Endicott College: The Gulls – like most squads highlighted on this list – did graduate some key players from last year’s squad, as well as their 2018 campaign, too. But Endicott does return some important pieces on both sides of the ball, including tight end Riley Shanley, defensive back Dylan Gardner, quarterback Dylan Bonfilio, and linebackers Tim Russell and Kevin O’Brien. All five players, along with some newcomers and returners will make the Gulls a team to continue to watch in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) conference.
Framingham State: After a slow start to its 2019 campaign, the Rams scored a must-needed win over Westfield State, which provided Framingham with all the momentum they needed to win their conference’s crown. This year, the Rams will look a bit different – they won’t have quarterback Adam Wojenskiunder center – but will have return some key pieces on both sides of the ball, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Rookie of the Year. On defense, look for Joshua Onujiogu to lead a unit that limited opposing rushing attacks to less than 100 yards per game.
Middlebury College: After winning nine consecutive contests last fall, it is hard to pick against these Panthers, who will certainly be challenged from the get-go. Yes, the Panthers bid farewell to some key players from a year ago, but welcome back quarterback Will Jernigan for one more season. Jernigan will be tasked with leading an offense that averaged 30.6 points per game while registering 410.6 yards per contest.
UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was fun to watch last season – he recorded career-bests in passing yards per game (277.6) and touchdowns (20) while rushing for a career-high six scores. Gacioch should be the player to watch again with these Corsairs, who ended their 2019 campaign with seven wins.
Wesleyan University: Quarterback Ashton Scott enjoyed a successful 2019 season – he finished with 17 touchdowns while completing 147 of 240 passes for 1,939 yards. Scott will be one of a few players to watch on offense – keep your eyes on halfback Glenn Smith and wide receiver Matthew Simco – while Taj Gooden will be asked to lead a defense that limited opponents to 19.1 points per game.
Williams College: We believe this Ephs team has a chance to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) this fall. They will be challenged, of course, but with quarterback Bobby Maimaron guiding the offense to linebackers Jarrett Wesner and TJ Rothmann leading the defense, these Ephs should be well-prepared to combat whatever they will face once their season begins in September.
Western New England: Some believed the Golden Bears were a bit lower than anticipated on our ‘Way Too Early’ New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll last week. And you know, we agree – these Golden Bears should have been a bit higher on our poll. Wide receiver Steven Fedorchak and linebacker Erich Keutmann should be able to help the Blue and Gold defend their conference crown not just against Endicott, but also other league foes.
A few other teams worth noting – we will certainly have more on them – include MIT, Salve Regina, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Western Connecticut.