Community colleges won’t start sports until spring season

The California Community College Athletic Association announced Thursday that its board of directors overwhelmingly approved a plan to shift all sports to the spring season for the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Known as the Contingency Plan, it was among three potential scenarios approved by the board early last month. Initially, each plan was dependent on which phase of reopening California was in July 17, but the board last week opted to take action sooner.

“I know I speak for the entire CCCAA board that moving fall athletics to spring 2021 is a huge disappointment,” board chairwoman Erika Endrijonas, president of Pasadena City College, said in a press release. “However, the need to keep our student-athletes and the amazing coaches and athletic trainers who work with them safe was simply the only option available with the virus spiraling out of control across the state.”

The return to athletics early next year will occur only if it is safe to do so, according to the release, and that decision will be guided primarily by state and local health guidelines.
The CCCAA has 110-member colleges – including Foothill College in Los Altos Hills – and approximately 24,000 student-athletes.

The board’s most ambitious proposal, the Conventional Plan, would have kept all sports except men’s and women’s basketball in their traditional places on the calendar. However, it was reliant on California being in Phase 4 of its reopening by mid-July, which now seems unlikely to happen.

That’s why the board – based on a recommendation from the CCCAA’s COVID-19 Work Group – decided to approve immediate implementation of the Contingency Plan rather than wait for July 17, the press release stated.

“We were very hopeful that we could go forth with the Conventional Plan,” CCCAA interim executive director Jennifer Cardone said in the release. “It’s the closest to what everyone is used to and provides for the least disruption to our student-athletes and colleges. Unfortunately, California’s reopening progress has slowed, and it’s become apparent that we would not be in position to put it into action on July 17. … While the Contingency Plan has the most drastic changes, it’s also the one that provides us the best opportunity to return to competition.”

The Contingency Plan originally had men’s and women’s cross-country and women’s golf competing in the fall, but it has been slightly modified to move those sports to the spring with the CCCAA’s other sports.

Those sports are now scheduled to start practice in mid-January and begin competition in February, along with basketball, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling. Badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and men’s volleyball are set to start practice in late March before commencing competition April 10.

All sports will have a 30% reduction in the maximum number of contests or competition dates they are currently permitted and also will have regional postseason competition, according to the release. Formats for the postseason will be announced at a later date. There will be no state championships in 2020-21.

The CCCAA board is slated to meet Friday to address issues related to the decision.

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