Community colleges face Dec. 18 opt-in/opt-out deadline to compete in early spring sports

The California Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Dec. 3 that it was canceling all conference schedules for both winter/spring season, leaving it up to individual institutions to schedule competitions that meet local health and safety protocols. This could include non-league and exhibition games.

Locally, Cal State San Marcos is affected by the decision made by the 12-member Division II conference.

Other collegiate organizations are still hoping to get in at least a limited schedule of conference play amid a turbulent and ever-changing health landscape.

The California Community College Athletic Association board of directors voted Nov. 6 to continue forward with its Contingency Plan, which provides the CCCAA with a framework for a return to competition this spring, while also providing decision-making guidance for institutions.

The Contingency Plan, which was approved in July, moved all 24 of the CCCAA’s sports to one of two sessions in the spring with traditional fall sports — as well as men’s and women’s basketball — participating in the first half and remaining sports competing in the second.

After lengthy discussion, the CCCAA board of directors reaffirmed following the Contingency Plan while also expressing that the plan is only a framework and final decisions to participate in competition will be left to institutions in consultation with their local health authorities. The board also requested the COVID-19 Work Group determine opt-in/opt-out dates for schools to indicate participation for the spring while understanding that extenuating circumstances may arise that may lead institutions to opt out at later date.

The board of directors also approved a motion to provide student-athletes a waiver for any CCCAA competition during the 2020-21 athletic year in order to support the success, safety, and well-being of student-athletes.

The CCCAA suspended its spring sports on March 12 and subsequently canceled them a week later.

Under the Contingency Plan, the following sports are slated to play in an early spring schedule block: basketball, cross country, football, women’s golf, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling. Badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swim/dive, tennis, track and field and men’s volleyball are slated for the late spring session.

Early spring sports, including football, are scheduled to start practices on Jan. 18, followed by competition dates starting Feb. 5-13. The conference competition end date is April 6, followed by regional playoffs starting April 10 and an end to the season on April 17.

Late spring sports are scheduled to start practices March 27 with an end date of the season on June 23.

The first casualty already has been tallied after Santa Barbara City College elected to opt-out of the early 2021 spring season of athletic competition due to concerns related to COVID-19. Ten sports teams that normally play in the fall will not compete in the 2020-21 campaign. They include football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s water polo, women’s golf, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country.

The CCCAA’s deadline for institutions to decide whether to play early spring sports is Dec. 18. The deadline for late spring sports is Feb. 26, 2021.

Grossmont College and other Pacific Coast Athletic Conference schools locally will be making their decisions shortly.

Twice weekly or weekly testing for the COVID-19 virus among student-athletes and staff will present a major financial burden unless outside grants can be obtained.

“Our mentality is that we’re going to prepare as if we’re going to play,” Southwestern football head coach Ed Carberry said. “The color (assigned to a region) we have no control over. Right now it’s classroom instruction through Zoom meetings and guest speakers.”

A move into the Red Tier or even less restrictive measures could allow for onsite conditioning or workouts at a future date.

Most campuses remain closed.