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NCAA to allow divisions to decide fate of fall sports

Ralph D. Russo
AP College Sports Writer

The NCAA Board of Directors is allowing each division of the association to decide independently by Aug. 21 whether it will be able to conduct championship events safely in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower levels of football during the coronavirus pandemic.

The board had been considering what to do about fall championship events sponsored by the NCAA, but instead of making a broad decision across three divisions, it set parameters for each to make its own call.

According to the board's decision, at least 50% of teams competing in a fall sport in any division must conduct a regular season this fall for a championship to be held.

Championships may use reduced fields of teams or competitors in individual sports and either predetermined sites or single sites to deal with COVID-19.

The board also said schools must honor an athlete's scholarship if the athlete opts out of the coming season because of concerns about COVID-19, and it directed each division to determine no later than Aug. 14 whether opting-out athletes will retain a year of eligibility.

The board added that the NCAA will not permit member schools to require athletes to waive legal rights regarding COVID-19 to participate in sports.

Scholarship and eligibility retention is among the demands of the Pac-12 players #WeAreUnited group that is threatening to boycott practices and games if a lengthy list of concerns are not addressed by the conference.

That movement has now spread. A group called #BigTenUnited posted its own list of demands on The Players' Tribune website on Wednesday, though it focuses exclusively on COVID-19 guidelines and protocols.

That came just a few hours after the Big Ten released its revised 10-game, conference-only schedule that is set to begin Sept. 5.

Meanwhile, newly independent Connecticut became the first major college football program to cancel its football season.