By the end of June we should have clarification on what the fall sports landscape will look like. One thing is for certain, it will not be what everyone was expecting 5 months ago. For some schools, it may well depend on political decisions made in state capitols. For Lafayette, June the 15th was the date set by the administration several weeks ago to clarify actions for the fall.
This will be both a fiscal and medical decision, which may result in a hybrid compromise. In the last several days, Pennsylvania and in particular Northampton County’s numbers have improved to a point that the County has been moved to a less sever “yellow status” and a “green status” by the fall is very likely. We have learned that the virus has less serious, even small consequences for the student population, but the concern would be for an elder and vulnerable faculty or staff members. All students of course will come from environments that may be more or less risky.
The tricky thing for athletic administrations will be in scheduling across a diverse geography and to take into account the fiscal consequences of road travel and other expenses. Division 2 teams have already had their maximum number of games reduced in field hockey and other sports. Division 1 has had no such restriction, but coaches are wrestling with schedules that may not hold for the fall. For example, will Michigan be able to open under present restrictions? The president of the University of Michigan has already stated he doubted any sports will be played come September. Ohio, on the other hand has a governor committed to see all schools opening and their Covid statistics support it.
The Patriot League is a regional League and I would expect little disruption to League schedules at least, but perhaps some adjustment, I expect, will be made for out of conference games. I do realize that lockdowns in Boston and Massachusetts maybe a factor, as well as in DC, and might interfere in that view, but I expect they will open, given the proclivity of neighboring states.
I have heard from other schools, of the possibility of dropping games that require plane trips, and traveling with a smaller traveling squads. Schools with small endowments especially will be fighting for survival. ( MacKinsey estimates as many as 1,000 smaller schools will face extinction). The A-10 has already announced a bifurcated league which raises the question as to how the schedule is filled out after canceling in- conference games. The MAC has reduced its post season tournaments.
One wonders how the California field hockey playing schools will fare. The California Public School system will be closed including its public university system. One wonders, since the Governor recently opened up the state, including the barber shops and Salon’s, how closing the schools makes any sense.
My conversations around Lafayette is that all really want to open in the fall, for fiscal as well as educational reasons. Another semester of virtual learning will probably see a surge in gap semesters which would have a deleterious fiscal effect for the year and in the future.
Many schools, like UNC and other southern schools, have opted for earlier openings, which makes sense since the semester would end before the fall flu season is in full bloom. Inexplicably, Ithaca College is opting for an October opening, which seems to me to be not well thought out.
Some larger universties have asked the NCAA to allow them to drop below the 16 sport limit to remain in Division One and some have dropped some sports, both I believe is not in the long term interest of schools or prospective student athletes. ODU, Cincinnati, Furman and others taken this road. I believe most of the sports cut were already on the block and Covid was the excuse.
Since the US Team and all high performance tournaments are shut down it’ll be interesting to see how this changes the skill and preparation levels of Division one this fall.
I predict that Lafayette will be open in the fall, and sports ( with some alteration in schedules) will be played. I would hope that the opening would be pushed ahead to allow the semester to end earlier. We should be getting clarifications by June 15.