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Division III increases the length of fall sports preseasons

Schools can begin practices Aug. 10 or the first day of class, whichever is earlier

For the upcoming 2020-21 season, the first practice date for all Division III fall sports will be Aug. 10 or the first day of class, whichever is earlier.

The Division III Administrative Committee approved lengthening preseasons for fall sports during a videoconference Wednesday, in response to recommendations from the Management Council’s Playing and Practice Seasons Subcommittee. There also will be an unlimited number of administrative days for schools to conduct nonathletics-related activities, or days on which schools can provide housing and meal expenses to student-athletes before the start of practice.

“The NCAA continues to keep the health of students as a top priority,” said Tori Murden McClure, chair of the committee and the Division III Presidents Council, and Spalding president. “Colleges and universities across the nation need guidelines that will allow students to return to play in a manner that preserves fundamental fairness as much as possible.”

The Administrative Committee concluded that this change gives schools the flexibility to conduct preseasons while putting the health and safety of student-athletes first.

Before this change, the permissible start date was based on a team’s first contest date. Given the uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, schools are unsure when that first contest date is going to be. Additionally, the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute put out guidelines on how to resume college sports and return student-athletes and staff to campus. The Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport recommends a phased approach, and this move allows greater time for that to be implemented.

The Administrative Committee is the governing body in Division III that is empowered to act between the quarterly meetings of the Management and Presidents Councils. The committee has five members, including the chair and vice chair of the Presidents and Management Councils, as well as the senior president serving on the Management Council.