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NAIA moves most fall sport championship events to spring; ARC will proceed as planned

NAIA moves most fall sport championship events to spring; ARC will proceed as planned

Nebraska Wesleyan's Football Practice, 8.22

A look at Nebraska Wesleyan's football practice on August 22, 2019, at Abel Stadium. 

Following the lead of some Division II conferences, the NAIA will move most fall championship events to the spring.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Council of Presidents voted Tuesday to move national tournaments for volleyball, women's and men's soccer, and cross country to the spring of 2021.

The NAIA stopped short of moving the football championships to the spring, but added it is awaiting feedback before making a final decision.

"Given the fast-paced and constantly changing nature of the current environment, the COP recognized that the likelihood of safely completing the fall sports season has decreased significantly,” said Dr. Arvid Johnson, COP chair and University of St. Francis president. "This decision allows conferences to consider the regional impact of COVID-19 when determining the appropriate time for regular season competition."

Before Tuesday's vote, 51 NAIA schools had already opted to postpone fall competition until the spring.

ARC to proceed as planned

The American Rivers Conference plans to move forward with fall sports but with a reduced schedule in football and single round-robin slates in the other sports because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release Tuesday, the ARC, which consists of Nebraska Wesleyan and eight Iowa NCAA Division III colleges, announced that new schedules will be revealed as soon as revised drafts pass through the conference’s governance groups. The conference also stated that it will adjust schedules if public health conditions in the region warrant.

The other fall sports affected in addition to football are men’s and women’s cross country, women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis and volleyball.

“I know the decision to reduce competition this fall was not made lightly,” Nebraska Wesleyan President Darrin Good said in a statement. “I strongly support the American Rivers Conference decision and applaud their continued efforts to put the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and our entire campus communities at the forefront while still providing the best competition experiences that we can offer during this unprecedented time. I look forward to cheering on our Prairie Wolves and safety hosting competitions.”

The ARC is leaving nonconference competition up to the discretion of each individual school. NWU is currently scheduled to open its football season Sept. 5 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A Sept. 12 home game against Augsburg University has already been canceled.

Summit League delays

The Summit League, which includes Omaha, announced it will not begin fall sports until Sept. 23. The soccer and volleyball schedules will be conference-only.

The decision was made in part to allow schools to adjust to having students back on campus before returning to competition.

"I realize this is disappointing for student-athletes in our fall sports, but the decision was made in the interest of the safety of athletes, coaches, staff and fans," UNO athletic director Trev Alberts said in a prepared statement.


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High school sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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