BILLINGS -- Tuesday marks two weeks since the NAIA would have crowned its women's basketball national champion in Billings.
Instead of a thrilling single-elimination tournament unfolding at First Interstate Arena, the sound of silence invaded. That's not what anybody had envisioned only days earlier, including Jim Carr, President and CEO of the NAIA.
"The way the whole state came alive to support (Montana) Western (last year) was truly amazing," Carr told MTN Sports. "So, it was disappointing that we couldn't see all that come together again this year."
Fast forward to now where MetraPark a host site not for basketball or the Professional Bull Riders Tour, but for some affected by the pandemic. Health officials have also scouted gyms and campuses at MSU Billings and Rocky Mountain College as overflow sites.
Every college in the country has shut down its spring sports seasons -- golf, tennis, track and field, softball, baseball. Now that we're gaining a little more insight and clarity on how to calm health concerns, here's what Carr says is next in the NAIA sports arena:
"The campuses want to know how we're setting ourselves up to accommodate fall sports and championships. Interesting thing to think about is, how can you adapt the calendar? If schools really can't come in and start competing until Sept. 1 or Oct. 1, we need to be ready to adjust our calendar and I think potentially even have our fall championships past the first of the year if we had to."
The good news -- fall sports workouts are still four months away. The dicey side of that is an hour glass racing time to allow the return. There's a real chance football, volleyball and other fall sports are left blank in the 2020 history books. That's hard for Carr to imagine, not as a CEO but like the rest of us, as a sports fan.
"Yeah, it is. As you said, taking off my NAIA hat, it might not be as bad to be quarantined if you had sports on TV," Carr said. "We're here in Kansas City and the Chiefs just won the Super Bowl. Peoples' lives revolved around going out to Arrowhead Stadium, so it changes America in a big way.
"And you think about our campuses. We have about 100 schools that play football and it's a big deal. It sort of sets the calendar every week. You've got a football game and people are looking forward to that."
With the spring sports cancellation, student-athletes are being granted an extra season of eligibility. To be clear, seniors aren't the only ones being granted that extra season. The newly improvised rule includes all athletes currently enrolled in spring sports. And possibly collegiate athletes in the fall.
Carr chuckles over the number of times he's asked if student-athletes still have to do school work if they return for an extra sports season.
"My 10th-grade son was just asking me that. He was like, 'So Dad, can kids just play without even going to school?' And the answer to that is actually no, you have to be enrolled full-time," Carr laughed.