KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI (July 31, 2020) – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Council of Presidents (COP) voted on Friday, July 31 to postpone the fall national football championship to spring 2021. This decision came after the COP voted earlier in the week to postpone championships in all other fall sports until spring. This decision still allows NAIA conferences to compete in the fall and winter, if they so choose.
“The decision regarding the football championship required additional attention since the sport often operates outside of the regular conference structure,” said Dr. Arvid Johnson, COP Chair and University of St. Francis President. “The extra time allotted was to ensure that the COP representatives had adequate opportunity to gain feedback from their conference colleagues.”
The COP noted that the decision to move the football championship from the fall to spring is more inclusive for all NAIA member institutions, especially those schools that are restricted by local or state mandates from holding athletics competitions this fall.
“Moving the football championship to the spring was the right thing to do for the well-being of our student-athletes,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “The decision also provides additional flexibility for our conferences and institutions to account for regional differences and plan their regular season accordingly.”
The NAIA COP also voted July 28 to postpone the national championships in cross country, men's soccer, women's soccer, and women's volleyball to spring 2021. This decision still allows NAIA conferences to compete in the fall and winter, if they so choose.
“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,” Johnson said. “This decision allows conferences to consider the regional impact of COVID-19 when determining the appropriate time for regular season competition.”
Prior to the COP’s vote, 51 NAIA individual institutions had already opted to postpone fall competition until spring 2021.
“The NAIA realizes there are a wide range of considerations that come with postponing fall championships,” Carr said. “However, our first priority is making sure our student-athletes are not penalized by this decision. That will likely require temporary rule changes and accommodations as related to eligibility and seasons of competition, which the NAIA governance groups will begin further defining this week.”
In March 2020, the NAIA canceled the spring 2020 sport season due to gathering restrictions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Consequently, no spring 2020 athlete was charged a season of competition.
“This decision exemplifies the COP placing a priority on institutional and conference autonomy while acting in the best interest of the association,” said Carr. “We are fortunate to have dedicated leadership across our shared governance groups who are passionate about supporting our student-athletes’ safety and overall experience.”