Atlantic 10 votes to shorten regular season, postseason in some sports for only 2020-21

  • Earl Lorden Field at UMass. FILE PHOTO

Sports Editor
Published: 5/14/2020 4:46:28 PM

The Atlantic 10 Conference concluded its annual Spring Meetings on Wednesday and voted to shorten the regular season and move conference tournaments to four-team championships.

“We had our annual yearend conference business meeting to address key league topics, as well as the many issues we are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national economic crisis facing higher education and intercollegiate athletics,” commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a statement. “The decisions made, including revisions to our conference schedules, championship formats, policies and procedures were extremely difficult. However, each was considered and discussed with empathy, in consideration of the health, welfare and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and overall athletic programs.”

The conference approved for only the 2020-21 season to regionalize and condense conference schedules by 25 percent in field hockey, volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse.

These revised schedules will allow for institutions to ensure a safer environment, minimize travel and missed class time, and conserve cost while still providing competitive schedules for the student-athletes and coaches.

Conference championships for volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse were each reformatted to a four-team championship. This will minimize travel exposure, provide a final four competitive experience and allow for the championships to be conducted in one weekend.

“These are extraordinary times and the Athletic Directors are leading in extraordinary fashion as evidenced by their willingness to make smart, hard decisions for the 2020-21 season while remaining committed to staying focused and resilient as circumstances in our world of athletics and academia change on a daily basis,” McGlade added. “The hope is that there will be a return to campus and classes with the ability to implement the necessary COVID-19 protocols for the fall semester. Should this not occur, the conference is prepared to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate with medical professionals all decisions in the best interests of our student-athletes and programs.”

Other revisions to events and policies included the decision to conduct men’s basketball media day, sport committee meetings and administrative/governance meetings virtually to minimizing travel exposure and time away while maintaining cost containment.

“The Atlantic 10 membership, like all of college sports, must carefully navigate the current environment with regards to health and safety while maintaining fiscal responsibilities,” Rhode Island athletic director and chair of the A-10 Athletic Directors’ group Thorr Bjorn said in a statement. “I believe we’ve done that successfully this week, and I commend my colleagues and thank the Atlantic 10 staff for working together to address many key issues.”

The directors and coaches discussed a number of NCAA governance-related issues, including the transfer legislative and waiver criteria, pending discussions on regulatory adjustments directly impacted by the pandemic, as well as future decision-making frameworks and protocols for safe return to sport. Discussion related to the soon to be drafted legislation for student athletes’ use of their name, image and likeness (NIL), was vetted, allowing for meaningful feedback to the NCAA.

The men’s and women’s basketball coaches each held their annual meetings, discussing scheduling, NCAA legislation and processes for the return of their student-athletes to campus and safe training. The 2020-21 conference schedule pairings were discussed, and the men’s 18-game, and women’s 16-game pairings will be announced this week.

Mike Moran can be reached at Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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