SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls are preparing for fall sports, but this year may look a little different.
The spring sports season was canceled in March by the NCAA. The negative impact of that decision was the loss of a year of eligibility, but the NCAA found a way to fix that.
“They basically gave spring sports athletes their seasons back. Basically, spring 2020 doesn’t count towards their eligibility,” USF Director of Athletics Pam Gohl said. “We’ve had some athletes who decided to postpone graduation or go to grad school or athletes who had jobs lined up.”
Seniors were tasked with the tough decision to return for a fifth year of sports or to graduate.
“About 60% of our seniors returned for their spring sports season,” Ann Traphagen, Deputy Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator said. “Augustana has committed to giving scholarships to our athletes which not every school is doing.”
USF has seen a lot of athletes return for another season as well.
“We have some seniors that still haven’t decided what they’re going to do,” Gohl said. “We’re about half and half for our seniors. I don’t envy the student-athletes that have to make that decision.”
Both schools are slowly bringing athletes back to campus for summer workouts.
Augustana is taken a three phase approach.
“Our number one goal is that all of our students can get back by August 26. We did develop a three phase approach on June 1,” Traphagen said. “Our first phase brought back local athletes on June 1. Our second phase will bring back fall sport athletes, and that started June 8. All athletes will return next Monday (June 15).”
USF has taken a similar approach as they prepare for a more active than usual summer.
“We have our weight room open and we have athletes training out there,” Gohl said. “Coaches can do voluntary workouts with athletes and so this summer we are actually more active than most summers.”
The NCAA has made the decision to lower the number of maximum games for fall sports.
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“The NCAA is decreasing the number of maximum games to adjust their schedule for a possible second wave,” Gohl said. “At the end of June, the NCAA will let us know if we can move forward with games or make an adjustment.”
“The NCAA’s number one goals is to host and hold, while not touching the NCAA championships,” Traphagen said. “They may change the date of the championships, but either way, Augustana will be ready to play.”
The NCAA typically has their fall championships after Thanksgiving, but with many colleges moving their fall semester, there could be a change.
“If championships would happen before Thanksgiving, we would have to cut some more games,” Gohl said. “I don’t think they’ll take that route and if they did, I hope they will go regional with their decisions and allow the conferences to make their decisions.”
The threat of a second wave could influence a fall sports season. However, both Gohl and Traphagen are sure that the NCAA would find a way to play fall sports.
“They have been less restricting and more forgiving to the athletes at the D2 level,” Traphagen said. “If they can give a season to an athlete then they will.”
Another possible solution for the NCAA is to push back a fall sports season.
“The difference between spring and fall sports, is that spring sports are at the end of the academic year,” Gohl said. “I don’t think the NCAA would jump to the decision to give eligibility when they could just push the season back. Similar to what we’ve seen with professional sports.”
USF has announced their plans to return athletes to campus, you can learn more about that by visiting the USF sports web page.
The Vikings have reopened their workout facilities as well, you can read more about that by visiting Augustana’s sport website.