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NJCAA officially moves fall sports to spring next year, Kansas included

By Charles Caney/Butler Times-Gazette
NJCAA announces fall sports moving to spring amidst pandemic and Pratt Community College atheltes will be part of the schedule changes.

On Monday, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) made the decision to move the majority of their fall sports to the spring semester based on the recommendation of their board of regents.

The Board met for less than an hour on Monday, passing the resolution to move sports   to the spring, in hopes of being able to get them played.

“Arizona schools were not going to participate in the fall,” Brian Beck, the NJCAA Vice President for Eligibility & Compliance, said. “That played a large decision into moving sports into the spring semester.”

Arizona’s Region held an automatic national tournament qualifier for many sports and the restructuring without those schools would have been immense. 

Minnesota also said the same thing about fall sports. However, they do supply nine of the 54 football teams who play at the NJCAA level. This is an opportunity for those schools to re-evaluate their position and maybe participate in the spring. 

On Friday, July 10 the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) made their decision to move sports to the spring athletic semester, giving the NJCAA a pathway to what it would look like if the NJCAA chose to do the same. 

“We must adjust accordingly to support and sustain NJCAA programs,” Parker said in an official statement. “The association as a whole is collectively working to provide the best opportunities to be successful on and off the field for our student-athletes.”

Only cross country and half marathon running will remain a one-semester fall sports according to the NJCAA. Those schools will be limited to a maximum of 10 competition dates for both sports. 

For football, the move is more than six months into the future. Instead of a Aug. 1 starting date for teams, they will now begin on March 1. 

Teams will be permitted a 60-day practice window. Teams can have a maximum of three scrimmage dates, limiting to one opponent in each scrimmage. 

One coach spoke off the record when talking about the scrimmages, saying “why would I scrimmage another team if it’s not safe enough to play actual games?”

A maximum of eight games will be permitted in football and the National Championship will be held in Pittsburg, Kansas on June 3. 

The location is subject to change but those at the NJCAA anticipate the location to stay the same. 

Bowl games are on the fence for this season. While there are no specific dates set for those, it could be collateral damage as they may find themselves unplayable this season.

One thing to note is eligibility if the NCAA does choose to play in the fall. A player cannot play in the fall with an NCAA team and participate with the NJCAA in the spring. 

Volleyball is another major fall sport that will transition into a spring sport for the 2020-21 season.

Court Volleyball will be limited to only 21 competitions and their national championship will be held April 15-17. Matches will begin on Jan. 29, with regional and district tournaments beginning on April 3. 

All sports will be given a fall practice season from September 5 through November 15. This window is for 60-consecutive calendar days of practice. 

Basketball will begin its season on Jan. 22 and will be limited to 22 regular season games. 

Many of the spring sports remain unchanged as most changes were for the fall sports.

The regular season will end on April 10 and the national championship tournaments will begin on April 19 at their respective venues, Hutchinson for the men’s and Lubbock, Texas for the women’s.

“We want a season this spring,” Parker said. “We have to take into perspective of everything that’s going on.”

Moving fall sports to the spring could be a game-changer for those December qualifiers. Instead of losing a year of eligibility by playing in the fall, they could transfer in December, retaining an extra year of eligibility. 

Rosters may appear to be different as those athletes who leave at mid-year could drastically change how a team looks when they take the field in March.

The NJCAA pointed out those competing in fall sports in the spring and then turning around in the fall would count for two seasons of play, not one, as they are different academic calendar years. 

In Kansas, a seven-game schedule is most likely as the eight-team league already schedules out the seven-game schedule each season, with the Iowa Schools being the “non-conference” opponents. By this proposal, the KJCCC schools would not play the Iowa schools and would only play the conference opponents. 

The KJCCC had already made a quiet move in their conference, moving Week 1’s games to the end of the season. 

“This is as close to perfection as given our understanding of being adapt and moving into this direction,” Parker said.