by Paul Kennedy
As a new wave of serious outbreaks of the coronavirus hits parts of the country in late June, uncertainty about what college will like in the fall remains high -- how students will take their classes, where they were reside and what extracurricular activities will be available.
That includes college athletics -- if and when and where they will take place.
Until now, the program cuts everyone feared -- especially on the men's side -- have not taken place. To date, just two Division I men's soccer programs have been eliminated, and with the planned addition of men's soccer -- in place of baseball -- at WAC school Chicago State, that's a net loss of just one Division I men's program.
Only one small college -- Division II St. Edward's -- has dropped men's soccer in a move that wasn't related to a school closure.
To date, 45 Division I programs have been dropped. Decisions to drop others have been rescinded, and other moves are already in the courts. The sport most affected has been tennis with nine men's and eight women's programs dropped.
Program cuts: 2020-21 NCAA Division I sports
Akron (M/W). Men: cross country, golf; Women: tennis.
Appalachian State (W). Men: soccer, tennis, indoor track & field.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (W). Men: tennis; Women: tennis.
Brown (M/W): Men: fencing, golf, squash; Women: Equestrian, fencing, golf, skiing, squash.
Central Michigan (W). Men: indoor and outdoor track & field.
Chicago State (M/W). Men: baseball.
Cincinnati (W). Men: soccer.
*UConn (M/W). Men: cross country, swimming, tennis; Women: rowing.
East Carolina (W): Men: swimming, tennis; Women: swimming, tennis.
FIU (M/W). Men: indoor track & field.
Furman (M/W). Men: baseball, lacrosse.
Hampton (W). Men: golf. Women: golf.
Northern Colorado (W). Men: tennis; Women: tennis.
Old Dominion (M/W). Men: wrestling.
Southern Utah (W). Men: tennis; Women: tennis.
Winthrop (M/W. Men: tennis; Women: tennis.
Wisconsin-Green Bay (M/W). Men: tennis; Women: tennis.
Wright State (M/W). Men: tennis; Women: softball, tennis.
*Effective at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season
Note: M=sponsors men's soccer; W=sponsors women's soccer.
Lots of schools have implemented budget cuts -- layoffs, furloughs, pay-cuts, cutbacks in travel and meetings -- as they deal with the financial impact of the pandemic.
The NCAA has cut back the number of games Division II programs can play. Division I conferences have implemented cuts in the regular season or postseason to regionalize or eliminate travel, and schools are redoing schedules to eliminate long trips. On Monday, the MAAC, which previously cut back the size of its tournaments, pushed back the starting date of all fall sports to Sept. 11.
But with the reality that the coronavirus is not going anywhere soon, we are starting to see fall sports programs -- including men's and women's soccer -- be shut down or be recommended to be shut out at a growing number of small colleges and community colleges in pockets across the country.
The moves could leave other programs in their geographic area with so few opponents that they might not be able to formulate a schedule even if they want to play.
Small colleges. On Monday, Williams, the winner of NCAA Division III championships in 11 different sports, announced that it won't compete in fall sports as part of its plans for the resumption of classes in the fall semester.
President Maud S. Mandel announced the plans for the fall at the Massachusetts college on Monday:
-- Williams fall sports teams will not travel or compete during the fall semester. The Ephs are members of the NESCAC. Teams will be able to practice outside in small groups if they adhere to social distancing guidelines. They might later progress to full contact practices if conditions improve. (Decisions about winter and spring teams have not yet been made.)
-- Students will be allowed to opt to return to campus or study remotely (or take a leave or gap year). Courses will be a blend of in-person and remote instruction. Students who opt to study remotely will have access to most classes.
The Ephs' national titles include four in soccer -- men's soccer (1995) and women's soccer (2015, 2017 and 2018).
Last week, two other Division III New England schools -- Bowdoin, another NESCAC school, and UMass Boston -- announced they will not play fall sports. An announcement from the College of New Jersey, another Division III school, about the cancellation of fall sports is expected by Tuesday.
In May, the California Collegiate Athletic Association, the most successful NCAA Division II conference, suspended sports for the fall 2020 semesterafter canceling most in-person classes and continuing instruction online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan-Dearborn, which has teams competing in the NCAA and NAIA, will not compete during the fall. It has also suspended operations for all winter and spring teams for the fall 2020 term, including its NCAA Division I men's ice hockey team.
Community colleges. Most of the junior college closures, but not all, are related to the Covid-19 pandemic. A few are permanent closures, but most are moves related specifically to sports programs operating in the fall.
The Central Valley Conference canceled fall sports, citing the recent rise in Covid cases in California. It has 10 community colleges, six of which sponsor women's soccer and five of which sponsor men's soccer.
Individual schools are allowed to compete on their own. Visalia's College of the Sequoias (with both men's and women's soccer programs) intends to go ahead with its fall athletic program, while Reedley College plans to continue its basketball program.
The California Community College Athletic Association is set to meet on July 17 to decide what to do about fall sports. One of the options: move sports slated to be played in the fall to the spring.
On Friday, the chancellor of Arizona's Maricopa County Community Colleges District was presented with a recommendation from the presidents of its 10 community colleges to cancel all sports for the 2020-21 year in response to the state's Covid spike. Community forums on the potential shutdown are expected before a final decision is made.
Eight of the 10 Maricopa County colleges have men's and women's soccer programs competing in the NJCAA's Region 1, which consists of 11 Arizona colleges. Region 1 has produced eight NJCAA Division I men's champions and two NJCAA Division I women's champions.
Citing its fiscal crisis, the Northern Wyoming Community College District shut down athletic programs at Gillette College and Sheridan College last week. Earlier this year, Western Wyoming shut down its men's soccer program, stating that "continuing the program as it currently exists is contrary to our values and our mission" but expressing hope it could be reinstated in the future.
Following the move by head coach Oliver Twelvetrees to accept the head coaching position in Colorado State-Pueblo, Eastern Florida State College announced the suspension of the men's program for 2020. The Titans advanced to the NJCAA Division I national finals four times in the last seven years. They will continue to operate their women's program in the fall.
Cloud County Community College in Kansas suspended the men’s and women’s soccer programs indefinitely in a move its president said was "not a reflection of the students, but rather an institutional peel back to explore ways to improve the student experience" at the school. One of the issues: the need to restructure its recruiting and admissions processes and enforce English proficiency requirements. The men's program alone listed 57 foreign players on its roster.
Suspended fall programs: community college
Fresno City (M/W)
West Hills Lemoore (M/W)
Lehigh Carbon (M/W)
Eastern Florida State (M)
Northern Virginia (M)
Richard Bland (M/W)
Note: M=sponsors men's soccer; W=sponsors women's soccer.