National Junior College Athletic Association moving football season to spring amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The National Junior College Athletic Association voted on Monday to move most of its sports, including football, to the spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision will allow football teams to start preseason practices on March 1, with an eight-game regular season starting at the end of the month and running through May. It will impact 512 schools, 54 of which have football programs, across 45 states in the country.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

Teams will be allowed 60 consecutive calendar days for practices and scrimmages starting Aug. 15.

Other fall and winter sports were adjusted, too. Men’s and women’s basketball will start practices on Jan. 11, with their seasons starting later that month. They will also be permitted limited practice days this fall. Men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball were moved to the spring, and winter sports won’t start until January.

"Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes," NJCAA president and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said in a statement. "Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful."

The California Community College Athletic Association also approved a vote on Thursday to move all of its 24 sports to the spring.

The decision marks just the latest schedule adjustment due to the coronavirus in the college sports world. Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced that they will play conference-only schedules this fall. The Big 12 and the ACC will make their decisions about scheduling later this month, and the SEC’s decision is expected to be made in the “coming weeks.” The Ivy League canceled all fall sports completely, too.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey isn’t optimistic about the upcoming season, either, saying on Saturday that his concern level is “high to very high” and that “we need to all consider our behavior” if we want sports to be played this year.

“We are running out of time to correct and get things right,” Sankey said, “and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be.”

There were more than 3.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Sunday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 135,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set a new single-day record on Friday, too, recording more than 68,000 new cases alone.

The schedule change marks just the latest in the college sports world due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
The schedule change marks just the latest in the college sports world due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

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