So What Happens To Fans In the Fall??


With the exception of the Ivy League ( who are expected to announce their fall plans next week), most schools and conferences have at least published their guidelines for the fall return of students and sports. One missing element is fan accommodation. The return of sports has had underlying  unifying themes, first expense control, second revenue enhancement, and third safety in light of the virus.

I know I am going to get a lot of flack for the above statement, but in my view planning for many schools has involved preserving revenue streams and enhancing expense reduction, first. For the big 5 conferences, the revenue stream from televised football is in the hundreds of millions from football, the next tier of program sports and attendance is directly related to the revenue from students returning and alumni donations, which will be a considerable part of the net bottom line, given the unknown yields from tuition, and room and board.

However, governmental restrictions on crowd size and the ability to social distance will have an impact on the non-revenue sports. In the Patriot League the majority of the guidelines are directed at the expense side….limiting travel, overnight stays, and preseason expenses. The next question may be…. will crowd size be controlled??

In Pennsylvania, an email went out yesterday to the Penn State Letterman’s club that crowd size at Beaver Stadium ( seats 106,000) will be severely limited. Speculation is that it may be limited to 6000 fans. So who gets the tickets???? To the point of Field Hockey and other “Olympic Sports,” how will limitations, if there are any, be enforced and controlled.

Rappolt Field at Lafayette, which is the home of Field Hockey sits 750 in the stands, and maybe another 250 on the surrounding grass. The  average size of the crowds last year was about 350. Will crowds be limited to some number under 350, and how will those seats be allocated??? I believe that two problems with one solution is possible….charge for seats.  Everyone would pay, let’s, say 10 dollars per seat per game, which generates revenue as well as rations seats. The whole Patriot League should agree to charge for all “Olympic Sports,” so as not to create hard feelings from visiting fans. A ten dollar fee for 300 fans generates 3000 dollars per game for 8 home games or 24,000 dollars. You could call it a donation, and the fan could get a tax deduction as well. ( Many charities like art museums do this).

To make it fair everyone should be charged…no exceptions. It may reduce the ultimate size of crowds, but isn’t that the purpose anyway??  Holy Cross has already stated they were going restrict access to the campus and I expect Lafayette would do the same for the campus on the Hill. Admission to the Metzgar Athletic Campus should likewise require a charge…at least for next year. All other Patriot League venues (except Lehigh) are actually on or adjacent to the campus.

To conclude, I think it should be up to individuals whether to attend or not to attend. After all we can all go to the local supermarket ( masked) without hinderance. Why not to games. Oh, and of course all games should be live steamed, without exception!!!

Colonial Athletic Association Adopts New Championship Format In Response to Virus


The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) has adopted a new championship model that fits with their previous innovative scheduling concept for Olympic team sports. On June 3, the League ( consisting of Delaware, William and Mary, Northeastern, JMU, Hofstra,Drexel, and Towson in field hockey)  stated that each CAA institution has committed to play at least the minimum number of contests per sport to meet NCAA sport requirements, but using what the CAA calls the Extreme Flexibility Model (EFM).  The EFM is designed to maximize the cost saving with regular season travel. Each school has the option of scheduling  each other, even multiple times, but it is not required that they play each other at all.

In concert with the EFM format, yesterday, June 23rd, the conference announced unlike previous years,  every team will be eligible to play in the conference tournament championship.  The conferences athletic administration felt it was important to give all student athletes the experience of competing for a CAA championship and a chance for the auto bid to the NCAA tournament.

Student athlete health and safety, limiting travel, missed class time and controlling costs were considered in the decision. The championship will be held at one location. A committee of athletic administrators and conference staff will determine the seeds  for the championship using a variety of metrics including postseason polls of the conference head coaches. In the event, that each team plays a regular conference schedule, standings will determine the seeds.

I am impressed with this well thought out plan which provides scheduling flexibility, concern for the athlete’s class time and safety, while providing an experience worthy of the effort.

We still have not heard from the Ivy League who traditionally start later in the season.

The Patriot League announced their plans last Monday. The scheduling gun has sounded and a free for all in filling scheduling dates has begun. The Ivies may be left out at the end, given they have not finalized plans for even their fall student body returns.

Patriot League Announces Fall Plans

This is going to be one of those article that might upset the powers that be!!

In a confusing press release the Patriot League has announced a blended plan for all sports to open in the fall. If there was real thought put into this, I failed to comprehend it. Here is the essence, and it applies to all sports.

1. Athletes will return to campus the same time as all other students

2. Non-League games cannot be played before Sept 4

3. No flying to games and on rare exceptions no overnight

4. No League games until the end of Sept.

5. All games completed by the end of November.

I can see real problems. Lafayette Field Hockey has a game scheduled at home last week in August..that’s gone. Football has a game with Sacred Heart on Sept 4, after two weeks practice and then plays a game with Navy the following week. It is unclear when orientation for freshmen will occur , in any case, there will be no two a day practices since they are forbidden while class is in session..

Colgate Field Hockey has published its schedule and it is posted on the PL website. On Oct 17 Lafayette will play Colgate at noon. So will the team travel by bus leaving at 5:30 am to make and prepare for the game??  Colgate was to play Rider on Aug 28…is that game now gone. They play American on Sept 19 is game which now has to be rescheduled and they were to play at 11 am…really after a 5-7 hour bus trip??

Will games that were scheduled near other games be rescheduled in order to reach a normal year 16 game target!!! Will there have to be games midweek, and will athletes have to miss class???!! (11 games are needed to meet NCAA div 1 minimum and are allowed a max of 20) Accordingly, the fall structure was made with the health and safety of student athletes in mind. Preparation is key to health and safety. I see a lot of cost saving but very little health and safety initiatives.

Holy Cross is to start classes on Sept 1 which leaves no team at the school will have adequate prep time.  I am stunned at the lack of thought. Maybe I’m wrong…maybe there’s more to come. I hope so!!






Lehigh Dean Of Athletics Sounds Cautious Note On Fall Athletics

Most Patriot League AD’s have kept a low profile during the quarantine but on June 15th Lehigh Dean of Athletics, Joe Sterrett gave the clearest picture yet of the thinking of the League. Now that all but a small minority of schools have revealed plans for a return to classes in the fall, Sterrett recognized it as a positive step. However, a final official decision is at least two weeks away. 

The entire interview can be found on the Brown and White web site.

As reported in the Brown and White, Sterrett is reported to say, ” A plan will have to go through a series of approvals on campus, locally, with the Patriot League and then with other leagues. There were two gateway decisions that needed to be made before he and his team could realistically plan for a return of sports at Lehigh- the reopening of the state of Pennsylvania and Lehigh’s decision to return to campus.”

The county that Lehigh and Lafayette sit in is slowly reaching “green” status. Governor Wolfe recently announced new guidelines for a return of high school sports. It has been reported to me that the Lafayette athletic administration is working hard on strategies that will will allow, along with all the Patriot League schools  a safe return to athletic competition.

The NCAA now does allow voluntary pre-practice training but since the county is still under “yellow” guidance, schools in that zone are unable to return. However, as the inevitable “green” phase arrives restrictions could be lifted.

Sterrett cautiously remarked it was conceivable that some sports may be able to take place while others may not, but the goal is to have all fall sports return. As of the June 15 interview, nothing has been ruled out. ” I’m more hopeful,” he says

At Lafayette, students athletes make up about 20 percent of the student population, and contrary to popular believe, the aid it consumes amounts to the equivalent of 30 percent of that population…… below that of the general student body.  A fall without sport might have a devastating effect on revenue, both from giving alumni, as well as from student fees. It could be part of the decision for some to take a “gap” year by student athletes as well as the general population.

The clock ticks and by the end of the month a decision needs to be made!! In the meantime if I were a student athlete, I would continue my preseason conditioning plan as best I can.

The Clock Is Ticking On Preseason Start

Football can start preseason practices 29 days before the first game which is September 5 and field hockey is scheduled for a game at Rappolt Field in late August and therefore, preseason could start 21 days before that. In field hockey, there will no doubt be preseason scrimmages with real opponents early in August. The bottom line is, preseason  is less than two months away and most Patriot League schools have already announced their fall opening plans. ( Colgate has yet to give details on their opening).  Lafayette will start classes on August 17, and presumably will have several days of orientation for the first year students. The implications are, first year players might not only lose part of two a day sessions but may even, in the case of field hockey, miss a preseason scrimmage.


However, this is all speculation since the Patriot League is in a shrinking minority in Division One, having not announced intentions, if not detailed organizational plans for the fall. The CAA, A-10, Big East and Big Ten have announced organizational changes for the fall to save travel money. Lafayette football has a scheduled game with Sacred Heart the week before the game with Navy ( a pay for play game), so fitness and operational competence on the field will be important. ( Navy was originally scheduled to play Notre Dame in Ireland but has changed the date and venue, now to be played at Annapolis the week before the Lafayette game).

No doubt shifting conferences structures will result in changes to previous scheduling commitments, and there is caution on the part of Patriot League officials to announce schedules, until the scheduling chess game is  clear. In talking to coaches in other conferences, that rescheduling shuffle is already going on.

There is concern in some quarters as to how to handle spectators. Holy Cross for example, is stating they would restrict access to the campus. Will that mean visiting spectators will be limited or barred??  Lafayette has cancelled commencement because, even if Lafayette and Northampton County is classified “green” there is a limit on gatherings to only 250 people in Pennsylvania. One wonders if that means that Penn State’s 100,000 plus Beaver Stadium will only be allowed  to have 250 fans!! I doubt it!!! Will Lafayette field hockey,  soccer and football games have to have passes for only 250??  Again it makes no sense especially for outdoor venues!!

The unspoken issue may be returning players. How many student athletes will opt for a gap year and how many foreign players will not be able to travel??

The sooner the Patriot League decides to get off the fence, the sooner questions can be answered. The academe is not used to change and uncertainty, and decisions might have to be made without perfect knowledge. Another week with students, coaches and fans in the dark will make an for uncertain fall.

It is time………….

Why Scheduling This Fall Has Become A Game Of “Jenga”

Jenga is a game first marketed in the 1980’s. It is played with 53 wooden pieces each block three times its width. The blocks are stacked as a tower. The object is for players to remove a block from the tower and placing it at the top level without causing the tower to fall. Scheduling this fall for the “olympic sports” in particular has become a game of Jenga.

Molly McAndrews winds up against Boston

Most schedules had been completed earlier this spring, and because athletic departments need to save travel money, they  have been tossed aside as each conference restructures along geographic lines. Consider for example the Big East who last week announced that field hockey will split into a north and south division. The north division will consist of Uconn, Providence, Quinnipiac, Temple, the south division is Georgetown, Liberty, ODU, and Villanova. Each division will play each other twice in a double round robin format.

I am assuming that it will be a home and home structure. Filling in the blanks is the challenge.  For example, Liberty is in the South Division and published its schedule at the end of April. As they are in the south division they will not play scheduled games in the regular season with UConn, Providence, Quinnipiac, and Temple. The UConn game was Sep17 @ UConn, Oct 2 Quinnipiac @Liberty, Oct 9 @Providence, and Oct 23 Temple @ Liberty. Presumably, they will substitute games with opponents in their own division. 

The problem will occur in the away game weekend,  at Providence. On that weekend they were expected to play Yale at New Haven. Will they drop the Yale game? Are the Ivies even going to play next season?. It is compounded in that each conference has adapted it own format that may or may not fit existing schedules. Will the Jenga tower remain standing or what has to be done. Are conferences and schools on top of the issue. I don’t know!! Stay tuned!!


Big East Announces Changes to 2020 Fall Sports

In an announcement, from New York the Big East communicated schedule changes in league play for m/w soccer, volleyball, and field hockey. In an effort to reduce or eliminate air travel, field hockey will move to a North and South Division.Big East Field Hockey Teams will face each other two times in a double round-robin format. The north division will be Connecticut, Providence, Quinnipiac, Temple. The south division will be Georgetown, Liberty, Old Dominion and Villanova.

Big East schedules will be created using the NCAA Championship date formulas to ensure completion of the conference schedules in time for the national postseason selection dates. Big East championship dates, sites and formats will be announced later.

Grace Angelella moves the ball past a Temple defender

In previous years, Lafayette has played Temple, Villanova, Liberty, Providence, Quinnipiac and Georgetown several year ago. Interestingly, Villanova’s field is north of Temple despite their designation as a south team. I assume the schedule is home and home. I have no idea how this will effect Lafayette’s OTC schedule, but since all the Big East teams must play in the Philadelphia area perhaps there are opportunities for a short bus ride to play a Big East opponent???

I await some indication of what Lafayette and the Patriot League plan to do. In the meantime, in the matter of scheduling, any plan for the League has been figuratively a cricket chirping!!!

Bucknell University Is The First Patriot League School To Announce Opening Plans

Lisa van der Geest advances the ball

In an announcement published yesterday June 5 at 2:29 pm the Bucknell University administration has published their fall plans. The school will begin residential education on August 17, one week earlier than usual. The fall break will be eliminated and classes will end Friday, November 20 and have finals remotely beginning November 30 ending December 7. Other details like freshman orientation are yet to be worked out. They added that plans could be subject to change depending on events. All summer session classes are being conducted remotely. Camps, conferences, clinics, and practices June 1- 30 are cancelled. The July calendar will be announced on June the 8th.

They addressed specifically the question of Bucknell Athletics by announcing the hope that varsity competition will commence this fall provided the University is open to all students and deemed safe for student athletes, coaches and support staff. Final decisions will be made by the University Emergency Response Team with oversight from the Patriot League and the NCAA.

Previously the school had announced the cancellation of a tuition increase scheduled for the 20-21 school year.

Bucknell is following the template of a growing number of colleges and universities to open and finish early in fall and eliminating the fall break. Given it is the first Patriot League school to announce plans it seems to be the growing consensus among many schools. I expect as the coming weeks approach this will be the pattern that will be followed by Lafayette and others. Lafayette and Lehigh have already said they will announce their plans on June 15.

Any major deviation by Patriot League schools for opening classes would play havoc with schedules and preseason practices. All preseason practices are calculated by NCAA rule, based on the start of classes and the first game. My guess is all the League schools have already been coordinating their plans.

Stay tuned!!

Molly McAndrews and Sam Dimiao challenge a Bucknell mid

CAA Adopts ” Extreme Flexibility Model”

The Colonial Athletic Association ( for field hockey Delaware,William and Mary, Notheastern, JMU, Hofstra, Drexel, and Towson) has adopted an interesting scheduling concept for “Olympic” team sports for the 20-21 season. The Extreme Flexibility Model (EFM) is designed to provide teams a way to maximize cost savings associated with regular season travel.

Each CAA school will be able to play the minimum number of contests per sport to maintain NCAA sport sponsorship requirements.( 16 games for field hockey). The unique aspect of the plan is it will NOT be required for any institution to play ANY CAA contests. However, CAA schools could schedule multiple games against each other in the same region. Specific scheduling changes will be announced at a later date!

As I wrote stay tuned!!!

Why I Write This Blog

Sawers looks for a friendly receiver

Last fall, a Divison One contest played by elite athletes was halted because it conflicted with a pre-game fireworks display for another sport. The game was never replayed or finished. The game halted was a field hockey game between Kent State and Temple, the fireworks display was before a football game. I love football, it is a skill game played by well trained athletes. It has excitement, pageantry, and tradition. I played it in high school and college, and like most young athletes it became a passion for me. I still enjoy and support the game.

However, in the last 50 years young women have had a chance to participate and benefit from competitive athletics, and they deserve the same attention, effort and infrastructure commensurate with their feats on the field. So it is with field hockey, although played internationally by both genders, is a sport dominated by female athletes in the United States.

As many of you know my wife and I donated the field that bears our name at Lafayette College. The story is my daughter who was playing at the University of Maryland was to play Lafayette in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Maryland. Lafayette had a grass field and had to practice at Lehigh. During the game, I overheard a Patriot League coach say in the stands, “Lafayette will never have turf field, because they don’t care enough about women’s sports.”

At that moment we decided to literally change the ground they played on. It was not an easy journey. One senior college official discouraged me from adding a scoreboard and stands, “since no one came to the games anyway.” So we built it and they came. Field Hockey for the last 20 years has an unrivaled record at Lafayette.

Despite the League championships and NCAA appearances, the team got little print even in the local papers, or school newspaper. At the time, the Easton Express invited people to blog in the their online paper. The blog was born. Since then the Express has dropped the blogs, and I moved to another platform.

There are still obstacles from time to time. Like most institutions, the college wants to control it’s own message and has a platform to do it. However, this blog is independent of the goleopards platform, and for that reason, I sometimes go in a different direction, such as my championing athletic scholarships at the college, or the Patriot Leagues intransigence in requiring instant replay like other Division one schools. If the team plays badly, I will say they played badly. You will never see written here, ” the team closed the 4-0 gap in the last five seconds but it was not enough.”

But I honor the effort of these amazing student athletes by refraining from criticizing individual team members, but celebrating their accomplishments. I believe it is THIER game after all, they should know, and be proud when they do well, and they will know when they haven’t measured up.

I still believe their accomplishments should be celebrated more, and attendance at games should be promoted, by providing information to fans on a timely basis. I believe. the fan experience should be the best possible, from comfortable seating to accommodating venues. At the present time, Lafayette field hockey generates the highest fan attendance in the League. They play in a hotbed of high school field hockey, but still do not get the attention they deserve! Publishing of team information on upcoming games, and new recruits is sparse. Hopefully, that will change in the future… in the meantime…. I will be happy to fill that gap.

That’s why I write. GO PARDS

Molly McAndrews and Sam Dimiao challenge a Bucknell mid