NCAA's Mark Emmert Announces Fall Championships Are Canceled; FBS Not Affected

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 13, 2020

NCAA President Mark Emmert answers questions at a news conference at the Final Four college basketball tournament, Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York/Associated Press

The NCAA is canceling all fall sports championships after more than half of Division 1 programs opted against holding their seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Football Bowl Subdivision is the only Division I fall sport not impacted.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the decision on Thursday, citing the lack of schools competing this year in reaching the conclusion. 

"We cannot, now at this point, have fall NCAA championships," Emmert said. "There's not enough schools participating. The [Board of Governors] also established ... if you don't have half of the schools playing a sport, you can't have a legitimate championship. So, we can't, in any Division I NCAA championship sport now, which is everything other than FBS football that goes on in the fall." 

This is the second time during the 2020 calendar year the NCAA has been forced to cancel its championships, with spring and winter championship events scrubbed in March when the COVID-19 pandemic first took hold in the United States. 

Sports affected this fall include field hockey, men's & women's soccer, men's & women's soccer, men's and women's cross country and women's volleyball. 

"Sadly, tragically, that's going to be the case this fall full stop," Emmert said. "That doesn't mean that we shouldn't and can't turn towards winter and spring and say 'OK, how can we create a legitimate championship for all those students?"

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Emmert says his staff has been talking to all 32 conference commissioners in DI and is confident they can figure out a solution—as long as more than half of the programs across each sport are willing to participate—while creating opportunities for teams to practice and work out in the meantime. 

The NCAA boss emphasized that none of the contingency plans will feel normal, but that doesn't mean they aren't doable. 

In the meantime, the NCAA's biggest fall sport in FBS college football has reached a critical point with the Big Ten opting to postpone its season while the Pac-12 has postponed all athletic events through December. As of now, the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are planning to move forward, as is the College Football Playoff.

Emmert is also keeping his focus on ensuring there isn't a repeat of last spring when the organization was forced to abruptly abandon sports altogether. 

"We have to give highest priority to winter and spring sports," Emmert said. "Because they lost their championships last March."