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MSU Billings reducing sports schedules in '20-21

NCAA II makes financial changes due to COVID-19
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Posted at 2:43 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 18:16:45-04

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

INDIANAPOLIS – The Division II Presidents Council met and approved changes to the minimum number of contests for sports sponsorship, minimum number of contests for championships selection, and maximum number of contests and dates of competition for the 2020-21 academic year Tuesday, as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19. This will mean fewer games on the schedule for MSU Billings this coming school year.

“First and foremost, we take a lot of pride at MSUB in providing a positive quality experience for our student-athletes,” said MSU Billings Director of Athletics Krista Montague. “Part of that experience is the quality of competitions we are able to provide them through our association with NCAA II and the places they get to travel to and experience. We are disappointed this important part of their experience will be cut short this academic year. However, this issue is bigger than any one person or department. Institutions across the country are facing many unknowns and challenging times, and it is important to recognize the purpose behind these actions is to assist all institutions with financial concerns.”

The council reviewed recommendations that were put forward by the Division II Management Council, Championships Committee, Legislation Committee and Membership Committee. The Presidents Council also reviewed recommendations from the Division II Conference Commissioners Association based on a survey that solicited feedback on minimum and maximum contests in which nearly 95% of the division’s athletics directors participated. Further, the council reviewed responses from a separate survey, specific to maximums, that 435 Division II leaders responded to last week.

The survey was distributed to all active Division II member institutions and conferences and was taken by 258 athletics directors, 154 presidents and chancellors, and all 23 conference commissioners. Finally, the Presidents Council received an update on the discussions by the National Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee regarding each of the recommendations.

After considering the feedback and recommendations, the council took the following actions:

Minimum contests for sports sponsorship

The council approved a blanket waiver for a 33% reduction in minimum sports sponsorship requirements for all Division II sports, including National Collegiate Championship sports, emerging sports and Division II men’s ice hockey, as recommended by the Management Council.

Minimum contests for championships selection

The council amended the policy for the minimum number of contests for championships selection by approving a 33% reduction in Division II championship sports, with the exception of rowing, as recommended by the Management Council. The rationale for the rowing decision was one trip down the course counts as one contest, and it is possible to have three contests in one weekend. The reduction to four contests encourages teams to compete on at least two weekends to be selected for the championship.

Note: Championship selection minimums for National Collegiate Championship sports are determined by the Division I Competition Oversight Committee.

Maximum contests/dates of competition

The council adopted noncontroversial legislation to reduce the maximum number of contests and dates of competition each Division II championship sport can participate in 2020-21, as recommended by the Management Council. This action required a three-fourths majority to pass. Based on the survey data from last week, roughly 85% of the 435 Division II leaders supported a reduction to the maximums. Each sport’s reduction to its maximum varies based on feedback from the survey.

In men’s and women’s basketball, the council determined that teams may not exempt contests played as part of a conference challenge event or games played in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020-21 academic year.

The council also voted to determine that discretionary exemptions, such as scrimmages and exhibitions against non-Division II four-year schools, remain exempt against maximum contest totals.

No reductions will be implemented for maximums for National Collegiate Championship sports, emerging sports and Division II men’s ice hockey for the 2020-21 academic year.

“A majority of our scheduling for our 16 varsity sports was already complete, so our coaches will now work on figuring out which games to cancel and which to keep,” Montague said. “There are question marks about whether some non-conference opponents will still able to play us. Right now, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedules remain intact. Our conference expands over five states and Canada and we will continue to monitor decisions being made in those areas. There is no doubt this issue and our planning around it continues to be extremely fluid. We will continue to work within our state and local guidelines through the University’s ‘Back to Business Taskforce’ in moving forward in a responsible and safe way, with the student-athlete experience in the forefront of our minds. The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff remains our top priority.”

A sport-by-sport look at the updated minimum and maximum contests for the 2020-21 academic year only can be viewed here. The complete results of the survey taken by presidents and chancellors, athletics directors and conference commissioners can be viewed here.