NAIA Cancels Swimming & Diving National Championships

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced Wednesday the cancellation of its 2021 Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championships after it was learned the competition’s venue would be unable to fulfill its hosting obligations.

The meet was scheduled to take place at the Columbus Aquatic Center in Columbus, Ga., with the women’s meet March 3-6 and the men’s March 10-13, and was called off after the facility “determined it would be unable to fulfill its hosting obligation due to COVID-19 concerns,” according to the NAIA press release.

The events were originally slated to be held in Knoxville, Tenn., but had to be relocated due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was also going to be the first (and only) time the competition split up the men’s and women’s meets due to the pandemic.

Due to the fact that the host site withdrew within 90 days of the championships (as of Feb. 3, the meet would’ve only been 28 days away), the meet is cancelled following a policy approved unanimously by the NAIA’s Council of Presidents in December. This is the first event cancelled under this guideline.

According to an email notice sent to NAIA members, the National Office first learned that the Columbus facility would be unable to host the event on Monday, Feb. 1. The association added that, since all 28 NAIA Championships are scheduled within a tight three-month window this year, “opting to reschedule championship dates would further exacerbate challenges for both conference and institutional resources.”

It also mentioned that a similar situation arose last week, when the cheer and dance championships were able to be relocated within the 90-day window “because we had developed and identified, as a contingency plan, an experienced host available and ready to step in.”

However, the swimming & diving situation was unable to replicate this, mostly because Columbus was the event’s backup host.

“Unfortunately, with Columbus already serving as an alternate host, we don’t have that option with swim and dive,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “High-quality, student-focused championships are at the core of the NAIA experience and cancelling is done only after all other viable options have been exhausted.

“In this case, we are simply out of time and possibilities with too much at stake related to the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff, and fans to move forward.”

According to a source inside the NAIA, there were “multiple options” presented to the national office with facilities willing to host and facilitate the meet, but these requests were not listened to.

Columbus hosted four straight championship meets from 2016-2019 before Knoxville held last season’s competition. Keiser University are three-time defending NAIA champions on the men’s side, while SCAD Savannah have won three straight titles for the women.

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Little dude
1 year ago

Interesting that facility in Knoxville couldn’t accommodate meet when university of Tennessee has had several. Probably different pool but what’s up

I_Said_It_Too
Reply to  Little dude
1 year ago

Not hosting any non UT events

What
Reply to  Little dude
1 year ago

They also cancelled TYR Pro Swim Series, so they clearly are not hosting any meets outside of Tennessee collegiate duals.

DCSwim
1 year ago

They got their champs last year, so as of right now, everyone’s even

I_Said_It_Too
Reply to  DCSwim
1 year ago

Didn’t know life was about getting even. Tell that to all the swimmers, including many college freshmen who lost their HS senior season. It’s sad when anything is canceled, but this shouldn’t be the response.

onwards
Reply to  DCSwim
1 year ago

Hope your season gets canceled next

swimfan210_
Reply to  DCSwim
1 year ago

The situation is different from last season on so many different levels. Also, the other divisions could cancel their championships too this year.

Doconc
1 year ago

Waiting for the corona bros to weigh in!
Remember – that virus is still out there!!

swimfan210_
1 year ago

Did the NAIA have the time/energy to listen to the requests and do the planning necessary to host the championship in a different locations? If they could have, they should have. Maybe they were serious requests from viable locations.
At least they are leaving time for teams to plan out their alternatives for their final taper meet. Better than cancelling just a week out like last year with the NCAA.

I_Said_It
Reply to  swimfan210_
1 year ago

The Absolutely did. They were too lazy to do it.

Julia B
Reply to  swimfan210_
1 year ago

Wrong. There are multiple NAIA conference meets that start today

Xman
1 year ago

Just wonder who’s next in terms of D3 and D2 schools, I think we will have some mid-majoir soon announce their cancellation.

Coach
Reply to  Xman
1 year ago

D3 and D2 are expected to be cancelled today, per D3 Playbook this morning

Swimgod
Reply to  Coach
1 year ago

How do you know this for sure? And where is the d3 playbook?

Admin
Reply to  Coach
1 year ago

We have heard similar reports about D3, but haven’t heard anything about D2 being canceled (and don’t see that on D3Playbook, for that matter).

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

D2 is a go with plenty of plans for how it’s going to happen.

Anonymous
Reply to  Xman
1 year ago

Curious how many NAIA, D2 and D3 schools had their entire seasons cancelled. I haven’t heard of a single D3 having any meets at all.

Admin
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Denison just announced a schedule.

But, it’s pretty slim, you’re right.

Ldmrk
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Scranton, Drew, Catholic, and Juniata are having meets in the Landmark conference

Shark
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Pfeiffer University in NC (D3) will have their first swim meet this Sunday.

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

D2 has over 50% of schools competing. Roughly same as D1 for what it’s worth

Hswimmer
1 year ago

Stupid stupid stupid

SwimFani
1 year ago

Bring on Spring Break at Daytona Beach!!!!

Matty
1 year ago

That’s the worst news I have heard all day! I feel for all these athletes who have worked hard to get there. That meet was always a TON of fun!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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