The NCAA Division III Administrative Committee has declared that all fall sports will be allowed to begin practices by August 10 or the first day of classes, whichever comes earlier.
Usually, the practice schedule for these sports is determined by bylaw 17.02.12.2, which states, “To determine the first permissible practice date, an institution shall count back a total of 16 units on a calendar starting with the day before the first scheduled intercollegiate competition.” Under this protocol, practices traditionally begin in mid-to-late August, depending on the sport.
Several schools have already moved up their first day of classes in order to prepare for a second possible wave of the virus.
This comes as college teams across all three NCAA divisions have faced uncertainties regarding the state of sports seasons in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In the press release, the committee acknowledged that this is a departure from traditional rules, which base practice schedules off of the first date of competition.
Additionally, the committee approved temporary rules allowing for a longer pre-season and unlimited number of administrative days for schools to conduct non athletics-related activities, or days on which schools can provide housing and meal expenses to student-athletes before the start of practice.
Speaking to the rule changes, Division III committee chair Tori Murden said, “Colleges and universities across the nation need guidelines that will allow students to return to play in a manner that preserves fundamental fairness as much as possible.”
Currently the NCAA sponsors 7 fall sports, including:
- Men’s and women’s cross-country
- Women’s field hockey
- Men’s football
- Men’s and women’s soccer
- Women’s volleyball
- Men’s water polo
- Men and Women’s rowing
Under the guidelines, it is uncertain if the rules can also be applied to sports like swimming and diving that span across multiple seasons. Traditionally, many Division III swim teams begin their training programs in late September or early October with a division-wide limit of 19 weeks of organized practice per year.
In recent weeks, Divisions I and II have also released similar guidelines for resuming practices following the pandemic. Both divisions elected to reduce recruiting through July 31 by imposing a dead period and a quiet period, respectively. Additionally, Division I schools are allowed to have athletes begin voluntary workouts as of June 1.