LEC Set To Tip-Off Its 2020-21 Basketball Season This Weekend

The LEC is set to tip-off its 2020-21 college basketball season this week. (PHOTO COURTESY: bobert1980 on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC)

By NoontimeSports.com

The Little East Conference (LEC) basketball season is set to begin this weekend. And this is certainly good news for New England small college basketball fans.

As of this evening, three men’s basketball games are scheduled to tip-off this Saturday, January 23, along with one women’s contests between Keene State and Rhode Island College. More games will occur both later this month and next month, along with a four-team playoff in early March. And pending a national postseason does occur, the winner of their respective conference tournament would represent the league in the NCAA D-III playoffs.

Both Keene State squads have competed previously this school year in their Red vs. White contest while the men’s team squared-off last November against New Hampshire. The Rhode Island men’s basketball team competed last December against Bryant.

While the opening weekend will feature just six of the league’s nine members, Southern Maine is expected to play some games next month, according to a recent post from Al Bean, who is the school’s athletic director.

UMass Boston and Western Connecticut are the only two LEC members that won’t be competing this winter.

The Western Connecticut men’s basketball team captured the LEC crown last winter to secure a date with Tufts University in the opening round of the 2020 NCAA D-III Tournament.

The Eastern Connecticut women’s basketball team, which won its second-straight LEC title last February, announced earlier this month that they would not play an abbreviated season due to “health risks surrounding COVID-19.”

Here is this weekend’s LEC men’s and women’s basketball schedule:

  • Keene State at Rhode Island College (WBB) | 12 p.m.
  • Eastern Connecticut at Plymouth State (MBB) | 1 p.m.
  • Castleton at UMass Dartmouth (MBB) | 2 p.m.
  • Keene State at Rhode Island College (MBB) | 3 p.m.

Get Read For FCS New England Football This Spring

Most FCS New England football teams will compete in a few contests this spring. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

The thought of seeing spring football in New England is slowly becoming a reality, especially for a handful of NCAA Division I FCS programs.

Yesterday, the Patriot League announced plans to play a shortened season this spring, which means Holy Cross will have a chance to compete for its second-straight league title after securing the conference crown in 2019.

Maine and New Hampshire will also compete this spring – the two teams will compete against members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) North Division. The CAA’s spring season is slated to begin on Saturday, February 20 with Davidson visiting Elon and James Madison hosting Morehead State.

Rhode Island, which is one of seven teams that makes-up the CAA’s North Division, will also be in action this spring – the Rams are currently scheduled to compete against Bryant on Saturday, February 27.

The CAA will not have a championship game like the Patriot League. Instead, the team with “the best overcall conference record” will secure the league’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Football Championship, which will begin Saturday, April 24.

The Northeastern Conference (NEC) plans to play a four-game conference schedule, which is good news for fans of Bryant, Central Connecticut, Merrimack, and Sacred Heart. Games will be played on Sundays or midweek with a conference championship expected to take place on either Friday, April 16 or Saturday, April 17.

As noted on Twitter, by Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the FCS national title game will be played Sunday, May 16 in Frisco, Texas.

Four New England States Will Play High School Football This Fall

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Connecticut becomes the fourth New England state to allow high school football this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan 

The state of Connecticut became the fourth New England state to greenlight fall sports this afternoon, including football, despite the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19).

Today’s announcement from the nutmeg state follows a similar notification from Jay Nichols, who is the executive director for the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA), during Governor Phil Scott‘s press conference on Monday. But unlike Vermont, which plans to play seven-on-seven football this year, Connecticut will play tackle football.

Maine and New Hampshire will also allow tackle football to be played this fall, but those plans like Connecticut’s could change pending how each state continues to contain the virus.

Prior to this afternoon’s announcement regarding plans for fall sports, there seemed to be some momentum from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) football committee to move the upcoming season to next February. But that plan was nixed after the organization heard from its various “stakeholders group” during today’s meeting.

“The major decisions (in deciding to go ahead with fall sports) was hearing from all of our stakeholder groups today,” said Glenn Lungarini, who is the executive director of the CIAC.

“We had an opportunity to continue to collaborate with all of our education stakeholders and hear directly from our medical advisory group, and at this point, they strongly feel that the COVID-metrics in Connecticut have not changed from when we approved the plan on July 30. (We believe) that it is safe to play all sports as scheduled right now with the mitigating factors that we have in place, including football.”

According to the CIAC website, high school football practices can begin as soon as next Monday, August 17 in cohorts of 15. Full team practices can start Friday, September 11 followed by scrimmages one week later (September 18).

The CIAC’s 2020 football season will start on Thursday, September 24 with teams being permitted to play a maximum of six contests. The final date for all teams to compete is Friday, October 30.

Following the conclusion of the 2020 regular season, the CIAC will provide its programs with a postseason from Monday, November 2 to Sunday, November 15.

13 States Will Not Play High School Football This Fall

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According to the National Federation Of State High Schools Association (NFHS), 13 states will not play football this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

We all know playing football during a pandemic is risky – there is a lot of concern from both coaches and players regarding safety, especially when it comes to tackling or crouching in front of an opposing offensive or defensive player.

So it should come as no surprise that 13 states, including Californa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon have decided to not allow its high schoolers to play football this fall, according to a recent update from the National Federation Of State High Schools Association (NFHS). That number is expected to increase, not just this week, but over the next few weeks as more organizations unveil plans for allowing student-athletes to return to playing field either later this month, next month, or at some point this fall.

There are some states planning to play football this year, including Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisana, and Michigan – there are others, of course – while here in New England, it seems to be an unknown if and how the sport could be played safely.

As of this morning, all six New England states seem to have some plans in place for allowing fall sports teams to startup after Labor Day – here in Massachusetts, the plan would be to allow programs to return to the practice field on Monday, September 14, but that date could change due to a recent uptick in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

Three New England states – Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire – might be able to play high school football this fall, but all three seasons will be much shorter than usual.

Football in Rhode Island is a possibility – there is a schedule posted on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) website, but according to the organization’s Tumblr page, no decision will be made on fall sports until Monday, August 17.

Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott said fall sports would occur during last Friday’s press conference but what does that actually mean for the state’s football programs is an unknown. If football is allowed in Vermont, expect it to look a bit different than usual. Maybe we would see flag football or 7 on 7 contests?

While there is so much uncertainty surrounding fall sports, especially high school football, one must remember that the situation is fluid and plans could change, not just here in New England, but in other parts of the country. More announcements on high school football, as well as other fall sports should be coming this week – keep your eyes on Ohio where Governor Mike DeWine is supposed to make a decision about all athletic events, including high schools and youth sports. 

Watching football on both Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons would certainly provide us all with a sense of normalcy, but as I mentioned during an op-ed piece on Friday, the thought of risking the health of not just student-athletes, coaches, team representatives, officials, parents, and community members is not worth it.

NHIAA Unveils Plans For Fall Sports, Football To Begin Sept. 8

By NoontimeSports.com 

For the moment, it appears as if New Hampshire will provide its high school student-athletes with a fall sports season, including football, which is scheduled to begin practices on Tuesday, September 8. Other sports, including bass fishing, soccer, and volleyball will also be permitted to practice on the same day.

In an update about the fall sports season posted on the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) website, the organization has categorized sports into three categories: high risk, medium risk, and low risk. And as expected, football, along with sprint, were classified as high-risk activities, so the earliest both sports could play games is Friday, September 25.

Two sports – bass fishing and golf – can begin their respective seasons as soon as Thursday, September 10, while cross-country, field hockey, soccer, unified soccer, and volleyball can begin competing against other schools on Friday, September 18.

The NHIAA also unveiled plans for postseason competition in today’s update for some sports while football and golf will have to wait for a future discussion (and announcement), which is scheduled to occur “in the coming weeks.”

Like most organizations, the NHIAA will be flexible when it comes to scheduling – they know challenges loom in the distance due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Additionally, they noted in today’s announcement that fall sports decisions will be decided by individual schools.

New Hampshire is not the only state hoping to provide its fall athletes with some competition this fall as Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont have all shared plans for their respective seasons, which would all begin with practices in mid-to-late September. But will those seasons occur remains an unknown?