For the 2020-21 academic year only, the minimum number of contests required in Division II for sport sponsorship and championships selection, as well as the maximum number of contests and dates of competition allowed, will be smaller than in years past as a result of financial impacts from COVID-19.
The division’s highest governing body voted to reduce the minimum number of contests needed for sport sponsorship and championships selection by 33%, with rowing being the lone exception to the change for championships selection. The council voted for a oneyear reduction to the maximum number of contests and dates of competition, as well. These reductions varied by sport, based on results from a survey administered to presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics and conference commissioners.
All three reductions stemmed from financial struggles Division II institutions are facing due to the pandemic. Many institutions, per feedback from leadership throughout Division II, will not be able to afford the same level of travel or meet current standards for championships selections or sports sponsorship, even if sports begin as scheduled in the fall term.
“The financial challenges faced by institutions because of COVID-19 are considerable and, as we prepare for summer and fall, continue to increase,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “The approved reductions strike an important balance of providing schools with scheduling flexibility, maintaining competitive equity within the one-year reductions to minimums and maximums, and continuing to prioritize opportunities for student athletes to compete in NCAA championships. Periods of national crisis require carefully considered compromise.”
The Presidents Council made the final decision on all three issues after receiving recommendations from the Division II Management Council, which considered feedback from several leadership groups, Division II governance committees and two surveys of the division’s leadership.
Sport- by- sport recommended minimum/ maximums contests for the 2020-21 academic year only that affect Savannah State are: baseball (16 minimum/ 40 maximum), men’s basketball (15 minimum/22 maximum), women’s basketball (15 minimum/22 maximum), cross country (3 minimum/6 maximum), football (5 minimum/10 maximum), men’s golf (4 minimum/16 maximum), women’s golf (4 minimum/ 16 maximum), softball (16 minimum/44 maximum), women’s tennis (7 minimum/17 maximum), indoor track and field (3 minimum/14 maximum), outdoor track and field (3 minimum/14 maximum) and women’s volleyball (10 minimum/20 maximum).
Men’s and women’s basketball teams may not exempt two contests played as part of a conference challenge event or games played in the Tip- Off Classic for the 2020- 21 academic year. Typically, schools can exempt these contests. In golf, if a team plays a three-day tournament then that counts as three dates. Men’s golf can play four contests, eight rounds and 50 percent of their competition must be against Division II competition while in women’s golf, they can play eight 18-hole rounds. Six of the eight rounds must be fiveteam tournaments and of the four required rounds in the championship segment, three must be a minimum of 5-team fields.
Savannah State athletics director Opio Mashariki states that the decisions were made with a trio of concerns in mind. “They were based on travel, budget and the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and other athletic department employees.”