Ivies Do The Expected And Cancel Sports And Stanford Drops Field Hockey Forever

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The Ivy League did the expected and dropped their entire fall athletic season. The move was anticipated, since they were only allowing a partial return to actual residence at their institutions . So for 50 grand plus,  parents, for the most part will have their kids get their Ivy League education at the kitchen table. It’s hard to see how a winter and spring season will follow with only partial attendance to continue. Meanwhile, other Conferences and schools prepare to open in the fall, with no doubt, an abbreviated schedule.

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Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender

I look locally where, flexible plans are prepared for local schools, postal workers, daycare centers, grocery stores and others are working together in the real world, with some adjustment to keep this country going!! Pam and I went to our local gym where many accomodations were made for safe attendance.  Not so much for the supposed brightest in the Ivy space apparently!! I understand  faculty did take a large role in the decision. Unlike the rest of the world, I wonder if they expect to be paid for not teaching…..of  course they do!! So far the Patriot League has stood tall and resisted Ivy Envy.  Here is a quote from the AD at West Point ) a Patriot League member, ” There is no option for our cadet athletes to extend or make up for lost time in sports . If we can do so safely, I will do everything within my power to ensure they get that opportunity.”

On another sad note, Stanford permanently dropped 11 sports, including field hockey. It’s hard to see the other two west coast division one schools continuing on. They will play one last season this fall “like normal,” and honor all scholarships.

There was no official word from the Patriot League, and I would hope the coaches are busily rearranging schedules to see where a new match is located on an already fractured scheduling sheet. No Ivy envy so far!!!

 

Now What.. Whose On First??

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Last week added to my confusion to the plans for the fall season, and makes one wonder…. does anyone know with precision what’s in store for fall college competitive athletics?  At nine am on Friday, I was in contact with a friend who was in a position to know!!! ” We are definitely playing the fall season in line with the Patriot League guidelines, which states a Sept 4 start.,”he said. At 11:15 ESPN comes across with an article that the Lafayette/Navy football game on Sept 12 was cancelled. Then I get an email from the AD Sherytta Freeman confirming the game was cancelled, followed by a posting on goleopards  that says no sports will be played according to NCAA guidelines before Sept.18.

Back to my friend, ” At nine you were worried that we were canceling the season..so we are still playing.”he said.  After the requisite sigh, ” Didn’t we know about NCAA guidelines before the PL start date was set for Sept 4,”I remarked. I think there was an electronic shrug at the other end of the line.

I looked up the “guidelines,” which I think were promulgated in May. It is a recommendation for a phased in approach in 3 two week segments. It was additionally calculated ( by Patriot League “guidelines”) with a return date for athletes calculated to coincide with the return of all students. According the goleopards announcement, that return is August 8th.

This whole episode reminds me of the Abbot and Costello routine of “Whose on First.” It was a confusing diatribe, where it was hard to keep track of the players who had confusing names associated with the position they held. The NCAA says one thing, the Patriot League says another, not coordinating with each other. As of this date  none of the Patriot League schools seem coordinated. Holy Cross plans to start August 30 which should mean that they can’t play until Mid -October, Fordham has a game with Hawaii which according PL guidelines should not be played….it is still on the schedule. Bucknell and Lehigh  have pre September 18 football  games with Villanova still posted. Both schools have the same start date as Lafayette.

International students from Europe might have to take circuitous routes back and forth from the United States because of travel restrictions. The subject of fan attendance at games has not been revealed. The NCAA has enforced a “black out” period for face to face contact with recruits. Coaches are scrambling to rearrange schedules, first with the September 4 date in mind now it is the September 18 date in force at Lafayette.

On July 8 the Ivy League will probably announce the cancellation of fall sports, leaving additional holes in already decimated schedules.

Is there a difference between guidelines, recommendations and rules???

Who is leading……whose on first indeed!!!!! Someone please help me out here!!

 

addendum:

As I wrote this Harvard announced they will allow freshman to be in residence with some exceptions, this fall. Therefore no fall sports, they will allow only seniors in the spring…logically then no spring sports. All students will learn remotely. I guess they figure students at home will not catch the virus…really!!!???

This is truly bizzare!!!

So What Happens To Fans In the Fall??

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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

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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 Importance Of The Next 15-30 Days

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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.

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

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.

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Grace Angelella surveys the field against Temple

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.

NCAA Makes First Moves To Open Fall Sports

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Hanna Lewis challenges Lehigh defender

Yesterday, the NCAA Division One Council discussed the existing moratorium on voluntary workouts on campus. Expiration of the moratorium expires at the end of the month looks to be in the works as many college leaders are moving to let fall sports open and played in some form in the fall.

Purdue, UNC, Notre Dame and South Carolina are among the schools moving towards opening their campus.’ The most recent opening came this week with the Florida State system announcing plans for its 12 schools and 420,000 students to return to class. In each case campus presidents have said they expect football season to commence, albeit possibly earlier than normal.

Fans however might expect stadium seating to be restricted to a smaller amount in the giant stadiums of the large schools. Scott Woodard, the athletic director at LSU expects the national champions on the campus after the May 31 ending of mandated closure.

Some schools have already cut some sports to save money and Division 2 schools made a decision yesterday to cut the number of game by 33 percent. Field Hockey will now only be allowed a maximum of 14 games with a minimum of 12 to qualify for NCAA post season play. Football at the Division 2 level will be permitted  the minimum number of  5 games and 7 games to be eligible for playoffs. They can play 10 games.

On the Division one side the NCAA lifted the moritorium for football and basketball players effective June 1. The decision on other sports is not yet decided. Schools are planning to allow social distancing in strength and conditioning spaces by limiting population in one space and moving equipment to other spaces.

The FIH is still not planning to return to play until a vaccine is available.

The wheels are starting to turn, but still, we will need clarification from state governments and respective  leagues to get certainty on the way forward. So ladies, my advice is to start running!!!!

A-10 Modifies Schedules Of Seven Sports, Five Women’s And Two Men’s Sports

The Atlantic 10 concluded its annual spring meetings and discussed key issues facing athletic departments this fall in light of the Covid 19 pandemic. The changes made are only effective for the 20-21 season. The sports affected are field hockey, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse. The decisions approved were to “regionalize and condense,” conference schedules by 25% in the sports mentioned above to “ensure a safer environment, minimize travel and missed class time and conserve cost.” In addition, six of the sports will convert to a four team tournament environment. Field Hockey already is a four team tournament.

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Molly Mcandrew chases down VCU opponent

It is still unclear how that may apply to a disparate field hockey league that includes, St. Joseph’s, Lock Haven, Richmond, Umass, VCU, La Salle, St Francis, Davidson and St.Louis. There was some reporting that the league would split into two divisions by region. This would require that schools in each division would have to schedule out of conference games regionally to meet the 16 game requirement to make the NCAA tournament.

I am sure other conferences will also have to contend with different state and local rules that may eliminate games altogether. For example could a Michigan play any games within the existing rules, or a Harvard, Holy Cross, or Boston University under rules in Massachusetts or Boston?  Currently Lafayette and Lehigh are in Northampton and Lehigh Counties which are classified as Red regions in Pennsylvania, while Bucknell is in a yellow region under less stringent rules.

I will try to keep up with the change as they occur. but most certainly coaches and administrators are waiting for decisions out of their control. What is certain what was assumed in January is not for certain. I expect decisions will have to be made by mid to late June!!

Addendum:

It occurred to me after I wrote this that conferences could schedule to play regional in- conference opponents twice to fill up the schedule. This was the format for the ACC 20 years ago!! One game will count for league standing and the other game is a game that has no league consequences!!

Mac Eliminates Conference Tournaments For Eight Sports..Including Five Women’s Sports

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Anna Steps gets by a Lehigh defender

You will remember last season when the Kent State administration decided to end a Field Hockey game prematurely to have pre game football fireworks. Well, Kent State and its colleagues have decided to eliminate post season tournament games for the next FOUR YEARS, as a cost savings measure. The sports affected are Baseball, Softball, Mens and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Women’s Lacrosse, and Field Hockey. In case you’re counting since the MAC leadership hasn’t, that is a majority of women’s sports.

MAC members include Miami of Ohio, Kent State, Ohio University, Longwood, Ball State, App State,, and Central Michigan.

Overtime game with Syracuse

On another topic, the Michigan governor has stated that schools will most likely be closed this fall. So according to the NCAA if there are no students on campus there will be no sports. If that dictum holds there are number of field hockey playing schools  looking for opponents to fill their schedules.

On the positive side, last night the Pennsylvania Education Department said the schools will open in the fall. Given that Lafayette can provide protocols that meet state standards we should see our women on the turf this September. Who is on the schedule might be a more interesting question. Could we see Big Ten Schools, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland added as close in opponents?? I hope so. We shall see how that develops.

NEW ANNOUNCEMENT

The College has announced the athletic awards (Pardees) originally scheduled for May 22  have been rescheduled for July 31 at 4 pm at the Williams Center, one day before commencement.  Is this another indication fall sports are a go!!  I think so! We’ll see what happens at the league level!!

I hope I am not being overly optimistic!!