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DI Board of Directors approves plan for holding fall championships in spring

Bracket reductions, predetermined sites adopted

NCAA Division I fall championships will be conducted in the spring as outlined in recommendations from the Division I Council and supported by the Division I Presidential Forum, the Division I Board of Directors decided Tuesday.

The board last month directed the Division I governance structure to pursue a plan for moving championships to the spring. The plan for men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s water polo was developed by the Division I Competition Oversight Committee in conjunction with the sport committees. The plan for the Football Championship Subdivision was created by the Division I Football Oversight Committee in conjunction with the FCS committee.

“The plan sent to us by the Division I Council provides the maximum number of opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships while still being fiscally responsible,” said acting board chair Denise Trauth, president at Texas State. “We look forward to the spring, understanding things will look a little different but knowing the competitions will be just as meaningful as in normal circumstances.”

The changes include reduced bracket sizes with preserved automatic qualification for conferences. In team sports, the brackets will be filled at 75% of their normal capacities. In football, the FCS championship bracket will have 16 instead of 24 teams.

Contests conducted in the fall term for all fall sport championships that will be conducted in the spring will count toward selection into that respective championship. Sport committees are encouraged to consider all data available to them at the time of selections.

The oversight committees may need to revisit this topic if conditions warrant nearer the time the playing and practice seasons for these sports begin, but for now, the committees support providing maximum flexibility for selection purposes.

The NCAA Board of Governors has directed that all sites of each championship be predetermined and that the number of preliminary-round sites be reduced to support health and safety and operational management of the championships this spring.

In addition to the championships decision, the Division I Board of Directors reviewed an updated version of the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport document provided by Dr. Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer, and offered preliminary support for the plan.

Fall Championships Conducted in the Spring Semester 2021

Championship Reduced Bracket Size Automatic Qualifiers At Large First Practice First Competition Selections Championship Dates
Men’s and women’s cross country 255 per gender N/A 255 per gender Institutional discretion Jan. 23 March 6 March 15
Field hockey 12 10 2 Institutional discretion Feb. 12 April 24 May 7-9
Football 16 11 5 Institutional discretion Institutional discretion April 18 May 14-16 (exact date TBD)
Men’s soccer 36 24 12 Institutional discretion Feb. 3 April 18 May 13-17
Women’s soccer 48 31 17 Institutional discretion Feb. 3 April 18 May 13-17
Women’s volleyball 48 32 16 Institutional discretion Jan. 22 April 4 April 23-25
Men’s water polo 6 6 0 Institutional discretion Jan. 16 March 7 March 19-21