NCAA division One and Three programs are giving us all clues about the future of hockey for the 2020-2021 season. These clues are coming from teams actually canceling seasons, to NCAA football teams playing only within their own conferences this fall.
The most important clues though are coming from the NCAA itself, in the form of rule changes concerning eligibility in the time of COVID-19.
Under NCAA rules, students will not use a season of eligibility if their team does not compete during the traditional sport season. On July 9, the NCAA issued a blanket waiver providing guidance regarding eligibility concerns for teams who play a limited number of contests, or whose seasons end prematurely. The blanket waiver states that student-athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50% or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCAA also approved a second blanket waiver which permits student-athletes to receive a two-semester/three-quarter extension of eligibility if the student-athlete is unable to participate in their sport during the 2020-21 academic year due to the impact of COVID-19 or if the student-athlete’s team completed 50% or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to COVID-19. For more information on these blanket waivers, please see the NCAA press release
Given the Big 10 and PAC 12 Football conferences have moved to conference only schedules, and the SEC is expected to follow soon, it is clear that schools are preparing for problems related to COVID-19 this year.
With several schools at the D-3 level now canceling hockey seasons, it is only a matter of weeks before D-1 programs also begin to change their scheduling plans and potentially cancel seasons.
Hockey for most schools is not a high revenue generating sport, and therefore incurring losses that are unnecessary during this season will likely not happen.
As NCAA campus’s around the country begin to open next month, testing will take place. Positive tests will likely close those universities campus quickly and could lead to programming cancelations.
The United States government is also having it’s say on student athletes from out of the country.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday that visas would not be issued to nonimmigrant students enrolled in online-only school this fall, meaning those students would have to return to their home country or transfer to schools with in-person classes.
Those student athletes who may be effected by delays, or cancelations should seek guidance concerning options to continue play under an NCAA compliant program should they wish to play or can play during the school year.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser