NJCAA moves basketball start up

Charles Chaney

The NJCAA put out guidelines for the start of the 2020-21 athletic seasons and the big one: College basketball is moved up two weeks.

With the help of the NJCAA Health and Safety Council, the NJCAA National Office has issued a list of safety protocol recommendations for the 2020-21 regular season and their championship events. The key: to get the games in so there is not a cancellation as there was in March.

The big change is the college basketball season. Previously, teams could be practice on Oct. 1, with games officially beginning on Nov. 1. That’s been moved up to offset the scheduling changes that will be made as many schools are not returning after Thanksgiving break to prevent any spread of COVID-19.

Now, schools will be able to practice starting on Sept. 14 and will start competing in games on Oct. 16, more than two weeks sooner than previous seasons.

Currently for the fall championships, everything is according to plan. Men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis (D-III), court volleyball and half marathon teams will be as scheduled and can start practice on Aug. 1; with competitions beginning on Aug. 20.

With growing travel concerns and re-opening regulations, the NJCAA is currently looking for new championship sites for D-III soccer and cross country, as well as the half marathon championships.

Originally scheduled for Nov. 16-21, the 2020 NJCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship in Evans, Ga., will now be held from Nov. 18-23. The change comes due to conflicts with the rescheduled 2020 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga.

Some of the safety protocols schools are recommended, but not limited to, are temperature checks for student-athletes, coaches and game personnel. As for the visiting team, too. Limiting shared objects and implementation of social distancing when possible. Elimination of championship banquets and community service activities are also recommended at the fall championships. You can view the safety regulations here.

A handful of sports, such as baseball and softball, usually compete in what they call a “non-championship” season in the fall. Those are now condensed schedules. Some schools will not be affected, such as Butler. Their fall baseball schedule met the Sept. 5 to Oct. 31 scheduling window.

Other winter sports, such as wrestling, bowling, swim and diving, and track and field, all have been moved up, as well.

Schools are also permitted to paying for COVID-19 testing for student-athletes if they choose. Schools are also allowed to move students in as soon as July 18, to allow a 14-day quarantine for those who need it and to allow school any extra safety regulations that may be needed.

The spring championships will proceed with a normal schedule for now. If the NJCAA sees fit, they can adjust if needed.