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Community college athletic board creates 3-part plan to restart sports

Town Crier Report

The California Community College Athletic Association Board of Directors has unanimously approved a three-part plan to allow its schools – including Foothill College in Los Altos Hills – to return to intercollegiate athletics for the 2020-21 academic year while being directed by health guidelines from the state.

Adopted last month, the action calls for immediate implementation of what the board has titled the Conventional Plan, according to a CCCAA press release. That plan keeps sports in their traditional fall and spring seasons – except for men’s and women’s basketball, which move to the spring.

If it is still unsafe to execute athletics within the Conventional Plan framework by July 17, the CCCAA board said it will move to either the Contact/Non-Contact Plan or the Contingency Plan.

The Contact/Non-Contact Plan places men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s volleyball in the fall. The remaining sports – including football – would start play in early February.

If not able to enact that plan, the CCCAA board said it will fall back to the Contingency Plan, which keeps cross-country and women’s golf in the fall and places the remainder of the sports in the spring.

Sports seasons are reduced from their current lengths in each of the plans. The maximum number of contests are reduced to either 70% or 75% of their current totals, according to the CCCAA release, and post-conference competition would be limited to regional championships that must be completed within a week’s time (regionals go beyond the percentage allowed during the regular season). State championships would not be contested in the 2020-21 school year, CCCAA officials said in the release.

The board decided that fans will not be permitted at CCCAA-sanctioned sporting events until California moves into Phase 4 of its reopening plan. Once the state does so, districts and/or institutions may make their own decisions about allowing spectators at their events.

Working Group leads the way

The CCCAA board adopted plans that were formulated by its COVID-19 Working Group with input and feedback from stakeholders throughout the state, according to the release. It noted that the Working Group made its decision with six guiding principles in mind: health, safety and mitigation; student opportunity; budget and financial consideration; equity; elements of uncertainty; and informed decision-making.

“There were no easy decisions during this process, but everybody had our 24,000 student-athletes’ best interests in mind,” said Jennifer Cardone, interim executive director of the CCCAA. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t peer into a crystal ball and see what lies down the road. However, the plans give us a flexible roadmap that we believe provides the best opportunity for us to get back to providing opportunities for our student-athletes.”

The Conventional Plan is most like traditional sports seasons, though it is dependent on the state being in Phase 4 of its reopening plan by July 17. The Contact/Non-Contact Plan will be enacted if California is in Phase 3, while the Contingency Plan will be used if the state is in Phase 2. The Working Group intends to make a recommendation to the board after evaluating the state’s health guidelines ahead of July 17.

More details on each plan follow.

Conventional Plan

Cross-country, football, women’s golf, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling compete during the fall, beginning Sept. 11 – except for football (Sept. 26) – and the plan allows for 75% of the maximum number of contests currently permitted. The season, including any regional championships, ends by Nov. 25. All the remaining sports (badminton, baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and men’s volleyball) start competing March 1 and finish by May 22.

Contact/Non-Contact Plan

Cross-country, women’s golf, swimming and diving, and women’s volleyball – each considered non-contact or minimal-contact sports – begin competition in mid-September and conclude by Nov. 25. Sports will be permitted 70% of their current maximum number of contests. Basketball, football, soccer, water polo and wrestling would begin competition Feb. 13 and finish by April 17; all other sports start competing April 10 and end by June 23. Volleyball moves to the spring and starts competition Feb. 13, if it is deemed to be unsafe to compete in the fall.

Contingency Plan

Only cross-country and women’s golf compete in the fall; all other sports move to the spring with regular-season competition capped at 70% of current levels. Basketball, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling start competition in early February and finish by April 17; the remaining sports start April 10 and end by June 23.

Impacts on athletic training, game management and other factors were considered during the decision-making process. Non-traditional sports seasons (e.g., fall baseball, etc.) and showcases will not be conducted in 2020-21. Tournaments, meets and other multi-team competitions will be permitted provided county, district and/or institutional protocols are strictly followed for such events.

Sports also will alter any rules and/or protocols to fit social distancing and any other practices where necessary, according to the release. The California Community College Athletic Training Association provided extensive information to the Working Group to help guide a safe return to practice and competition.

“The health and safety of everyone involved with community college athletics – particularly our student-athletes – is paramount to this entire process,” Cardone said. “However, we know the vibrant role intercollegiate athletics play on our campuses, so we wanted to mitigate concerns as much as possible to get our programs back in action.”

Foothill athletic director Mike Teijeiro didn’t respond to the Town Crier’s request for a comment about the CCCAA’s three-part plan.

For a full description of each plan, visit cccaasports.org.

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