The MIAA CEO Council issued a statement Aug. 14 that all fall sports are suspended until Jan. 1, 2021.
MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy said that if there aren’t any changes to the requirements from the NCAA, there won’t be sports among the MIAA for the rest of the school year.
“I think the thing that became too big of a weight to lift were the testing restrictions that the NCAA put in,” Racy said in a phone interview with The Missourian. “The amount of testing, and how quick those results needed to be received after testing was done, made it really impractical and too expensive for any of our schools to be able to do that.”
On the same day that the initial suspension was announced, Northwest Director of Athletics Andy Peterson reverberated the fact that the MIAA had exercised all options to try and make fall sports happen as regularly scheduled as possible. Peterson, along with Racy, didn’t find the logistics to work out in the manner that was needed for competitions to be possible while doing what’s in the best interest for the student-athletes.
“It went by a lot of people to try to make fall sports happen,” Racy said. “It’s heartbreaking for our student-athletes and coaches that have to go through this, but I think everybody that has been a part of this understands how hard our presidents and athletic directors worked to try and make fall sports happen this year.”
The language used by the MIAA in the press release allows for the possibility of fall sports being played in the spring. That is, Racy said, if the very logistics that hindered fall sports are modified to make any competition more feasible for the remainder of the year.
Should a football season occur in the spring, it won’t be the same thing that MIAA fans are accustomed to. Northwest football coach Rich Wright said that might not be a bad thing in terms of player safety.
It won’t be a full schedule in the spring. Instead, it will more than likely be a limited number of scheduled games, Racy said. With that, schools among the MIAA would have the availability to explore the option of scheduling non-conference games.
“What I contemplated doing, if they were gonna let us play some this fall, I really wanted to play maybe a couple of MIAA schools that were close,” Wright said. “But I also wanted to play some midwest FCS schools.”
The option for Wright’s plan to have a chance for execution rides on the same modifications that are putting winter sports in jeopardy, Racy said. The status of fall sports will be left hanging in the balance until a date that is nearer to the scheduled resumption date at the beginning of next year.
The fate of winter sports will be left hanging in the balance until no later than Oct. 1, Racy said.
The weeks leading up to the decision on winter sports will be accompanied by two meetings from the presidents, in which they’ll represent their respective universities. The first of those meetings will occur in the middle of September. The second will be towards the end of the month, right before the decision is made.
The athletic directors for each university will have three conference calls before the Oct. 1 deadline as well.
“In both groups, they’ll be looking at some of the health statistics and data from our MIAA communities,” Racy said. “They’ll be looking at any updates or information from the NCAA, as it relates to their new health restrictions and if there’s been changes in testing protocol or anything like that. They’ll use all of that information to make a decision by that October 1st deadline.”
“We’re gonna need the NCAA to make some further modifications, I think, for us to be able to play in the winter,” Racy said.
Racy said that he hopes the possible changes on behalf of the NCAA include ones that reflect the new guidelines of the CDC. Specifically referencing the new regulation in which it’s not required or advised to test individuals who don’t show symptoms of COVID-19 and were not within close contact of a positive individual for more than 15 minutes.
Despite the guidance from the CDC, the NCAA is still requiring that every student-athlete is tested. Those changes, of course, would make it less sufferable and more practical on the execution and cost for the MIAA.
If modifications aren’t made, winter sports — any sports for that matter — will be put on hold until at least the fall of 2021.
“We’re hoping within the next few weeks that we can see the NCAA continue making changes and modifications,” Racy said. “We’ll need to see that for winter sports to happen.”