Monday, August 3, 2020

Anatomy of the Decision

AUGUST 3, 2020 | written by STEVE ULRICH
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1.  Anatomy of The Decision

2018 Season Preview: The Southern Athletic Association - Division ...

What went into the decision to suspend, postpone and/or cancel competition for the fall semester? Who started the talks? Who was involved? How was the decision reached?

D3Playbook spoke with Jay Gardiner, commissioner of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA), about the league's decision to suspend all athletic competition through the 2020 fall season.

When did the SAA begin talking about the fall semester?
The SAA AD’s Council and Presidents' Council began to discuss return to play during our spring/summer meetings. (May and June). At that time, the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to lessen in most areas of the country. We stressed our desire to return to play, but recognized the necessity to put the health and safety of our student-athletes over our desire to compete. A statement was crafted in June by our conference that we had an intent to play in the fall. Obviously, that “intent” to play has subsequently been rescinded to a suspension of all fall conference play.

Who initiated the conversation?
We were all discussing the pandemic on almost every call. I think the agenda, regarding other conference business, was overrun with COVID-19 topics. We are a Presidentially-managed conference, so the lead on this came from their leadership.

When did the presidents become involved?
Our Presidents have been involved from the beginning. Our office, along with our AD’s Council have provided numerous options and plans directly to our Presidents. They have used these as guides, but their Council has made the tough, and in my mind, correct decisions regarding our fall plans.

Did the SAAC have input?
Our SAAC leadership hasn’t met since our decision to suspend play last spring. We certainly hope to get their input during the fall.

Did actions of other conferences around the country have any impact on the SAA decision?
We watched what others might be considering, but the decision was made solely on what we felt was best for our conference. Considering our geography and the travel requirements, we felt that there was no way we could play while protecting our athletes sufficiently and maintaining the protective bubble of our campuses.

Was the decision unanimous?
Though there have been a variety of opinions both at the AD level and the Presidents level, I’d say that once all the facts were in, the vote to suspend was unanimous. 

How many schedules did the office create as alternatives?
When considering the fall, we looked at a schedule that ended early, we looked at another one that had us start late...Oct. 1. The NCAA’s three phase recommendation made it tough to start and finish early, so we ultimately decided to play an SAA only schedule. As time went on, and the virus spiked in the South, we decided to suspend. We are presently working on various potential scheduling models for the winter/spring. We also discussed an option that would only play SAA opponents that didn’t require an overnight stay. Kind of an East/West divisional setup, but ultimately with our geographic footprint, it just wouldn’t work.

Are there plans to discuss the spring semester on the horizon?
It is a step-by-step promise, but we are discussing the winter and spring plans now that we have finalized the fall suspension plan. Our hope is that as the medical world miraculously creates new and better testing and drugs/vaccines quickly, we will have a much safer atmosphere in January and we can creatively provide play for all of our student-athletes at that time. 


2. Power Struggle
NCAA rules to give eligibility relief for student-athletes in ...

Not since Georgia and Oklahoma sued the NCAA in 1984 over football television rights have the Power 5 conference members and the national office been so far apart.

Sports Illustrated is reporting that the P5 conferences are floating the idea of conducting their own national championships, should the NCAA Board of Governors pull the plug on fall championship competition later this week.

The Washington Post published a story in which the contents of a call between more than a dozen Southeastern Conference football players and conference officials were recorded and leaked to the newspaper. Contents that included the league’s health experts acknowledged they were unsure of the long-term ramifications of contracting COVID-19, that the league acknowledged it expected positive cases on every team in the SEC and that the greatest threat to their season would be posed by regular students not acting responsibly and contributing to outbreaks on campus. 

    >> Reality Check: Although the P5 has the money to fund national championship events, it has not shown any prior interest in doing so. And that has been discussed for years by DIII folks as a reason why the P5 hasn't already split from the NCAA.

    >> Be Smart: "By cancelling those other fall championships, the Board of Governors knows it would be painting the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools into a corner. The optics would not be good if the championships in eight sports were canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic yet big-time college football played on," says Dennis Dodds of

    >> Of Note: "Instead of being treated as crucial partners in an entertainment enterprise, they are being asked to function as essential workers so that schools who have spent lavishly and irresponsibly for years on facilities and coaching salaries can minimize the difficult decisions they’re going to have to make and TV networks can recoup some of the money they’ve lost without live sports to show for much of this year." - Dan Wolken, USA TODAY

    >> The Final Word: This has become a high-stakes game of poker that could impact Division III, should the P5 be serious ... and play the trump card.


    3.  #WeAreUnited


    On Sunday, athletes from the Pac-12 conference formed a group to negotiate with the conference and league ahead of fall sports starting, with specific demands in regards to the upcoming football season for "fair treatment for college athletes." 

    • "We are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities," the missive reads. "We will opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation unless the following demands are guaranteed in writing by our conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons."  

    The demands include

    1. Health & Safety Protections

    • COVID-19 Protections
    • Mandatory Safety Standards
    2. Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures
    3. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society
    4. Economic Freedom and Equity
    • Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage
    • Name, Image and Likeness Rights & Representation
    • Fair Market Pay, Rights & Freedoms

    >> Why It Matters: "Because the NCAA has failed us and we are prepared to ensure that our conference treats us fairly whether or not it continues its NCAA membership, #WeAreUnited."

    >> What's Next: Could be a game of chicken? Could be a game-changer? Time will tell, but things are changing fast in collegiate sports.


    4. And Then There Were Two

    Since we last met ... three other conferences made announcements about their fall 2020 seasons.Now the attention turns to individual colleges. While the Landmark postponed regular-season contests and championships, Catholic University announced that it will not participate in any sport through Dec. 31, 2020. And Franklin & Marshall of the Centennial Conference cancelled all athletic competitions before Jan. 1, 2021. 

    The Empire 8 Conference announced that its Presidents Council will make a decision regarding winter competition in basketball, swimming and diving and indoor track and field by October 1.

    >> Reality Check: Division III is not done making hard decisions.


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    5.  A Golden Season, Volleyball

    With all the difficult news coming out about the fall 2020 season, we thought it might be time to dust off some anniversary seasons from the past. First, we reviewed the 1995 men's soccer championship. Today, we'll continue with a look back 25 years ago to the 1995 NCAA women's volleyball championship tournament.

    Each edition of D3Playbook, we'll bring you the results of a round of play, culminating on August 11 with the final. Now, we know you can look this up online if you choose ... but maybe you'll just want to follow along.

    Opening Round
    #1 Juniata d. DeSales, 15-6, 15-2, 16-14
    Gettysburg d. Kean, 15-8, 15-13, 8-15, 15-6

    Trinity, Texas d. #14 Thomas More, 15-12, 11-15, 15-10, 15-8
    #2 Washington U. d. Southwestern, 15-2, 15-6, 15-5

    #13 Springfield d. Williams, 15-7, 15-4, 15-10
    Coast Guard d. Eastern Connecticut State, 15-12, 11-15, 15-2, 15-13

    #15 Rochester d. SUNY Cortland, 17-15, 6-15, 15-7, 15-7
    #3 Ithaca d. Binghamton, 15-5, 16-14, 15-9

    #5 Cal Lutheran d. Chapman, 15-8, 15-7, 13-15, 15-7
    #6 UC San Diego d. Occidental, 15-9, 15-11, 15-6

    #10 Ohio Northern d. Calvin, 15-10, 12-15, 6-15, 15-9, 15-9
    John Carroll d. #4 Kalamazoo, 15-7, 8-15, 13-15, 15-7, 15-7

    #11 Dubuque d. Concordia-Moorhead, 15-9, 15-9, 10-15, 15-8
    #7 St. Olaf d. Central, 15-7, 13-15, 15-12, 15-8

    #8 UW-Oshkosh d. #12 UW-River Falls, 15-8, 15-9, 5-15, 13-15, 15-11
    #9 UW-Whitewater d. Millikin, 15-7, 10-15, 15-3, 15-4

    >> Headlines: Washington U. is the four-time defending national champion. Both Ohio Northern and John Carroll battled from a 1-2 deficits to win their first round matches.

    >> Tomorrow: The regional finals.

    6.  Comings and Goings
    7.  1 Bubbly Thing

    Champagne bottles piled in the cave of the Vranken-Pommery Monopole in Reims, France. Photo: Francois Mori/AP

    People aren't partying amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it's hammering the champagne industry, AP's Thomas Adamson writes.

    • Producers in France say they’ve lost an estimated 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) in sales this year — worse than during the Great Depression.
    • They expect about 100 million bottles to be languishing unsold in their cellars by the end of 2020.

    One producer called it "an insult to nature" that the Champagne region's famous grapes might be destined to produce alcohol for hand sanitizer, as has happened in other wine-making areas around France.

    - courtesy of Axios


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