On Sept. 22, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Board of Directors approved a 2021 spring schedule for teams who had their fall 2020 seasons postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acting upon recommendations from the Division I Council and Division I Presidential Forum, the board has set dates for the first competition, postseason selection and championship games. For Stony Brook University, their football, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country teams now have concrete dates for their seasons.
“The plan sent to us by the Division I Council provides the maximum number of opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships while still being fiscally responsible,” Texas State President and acting board chair Denise Trauth said. “We look forward to the spring, understanding things will look a little different but knowing the competitions will be just as meaningful as in normal circumstances.”
The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs have reduced the number of qualifying teams from 24 to 16, with 11 automatic qualifiers given to conference championships and five at-large berths. Stony Brook’s conference, the Colonial Athletic Association, traditionally receives numerous at-larges.
Although the FCS Playoffs usually grant 10 automatic qualifiers and 14 at-large berths, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) will participate this season. Since 2015, the MEAC, composed of historically Black colleges and universities, has sent its conference champion to the Celebration Bowl along with the Southwestern Athletic Conference in lieu of the FCS Playoffs.
Currently, the first game for FCS football teams will be scheduled via “institutional discretion”, with a playoff selection date set for April 24, and the championship game sometime between May 14-16.
Volleyball’s first competition is scheduled for Jan. 22, with “Selection Sunday” on April 4, and championship dates from April 23-25. The postseason pool has been reduced from 64 teams to 48, with 32 automatic qualifiers and 16 at-large berths.
Both men’s and women’s soccer are scheduled to begin competition on Feb. 3, with their “Selection Sunday” set for April 18 and their championship dates from May 13-17. The number of postseason berths for women’s soccer has been reduced from 64 to 48 (31 automatic qualifiers and 17 at-large bids) while the men’s soccer postseason has shrunk from 48 teams to 36 (24 automatic qualifiers and 12 at-large bids).
Men’s and women’s cross country has been approved to begin competition on Jan. 23, with postseason selection on March 6 and a championship on March 15. The bracket size has been lowered to 255 participants per gender.
For health concerns, the NCAA Board of Directors announced that the number of preliminary-round sites will be reduced, and the sites of all championship games will be predetermined.
The exact dates and opponents for Stony Brook’s fall teams are still unknown, but the NCAA’s announcement on Tuesday brings the Seawolves one step closer to resuming play.