ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) announced Thursday its intention to continue pursuing fall athletics competition under revised scheduling formats and resocialization protocols following a recommendation from the UMAC Athletics Directors Council that was supported by the Council of Presidents and Chancellors on Wednesday, July 15.
Following its regularly-scheduled bi-weekly COVID-19 contingency planning meeting Friday, July 10, the UMAC Council of Athletics Directors proposed schedule modifications in order to prioritize the safety and well-being of UMAC student-athletes, coaches, staff and its campus communities. The conference governance groups took into consideration the revised NCAA Division III sports sponsorship minimum requirements and the revised NCAA Division III championships eligibility requirements. Further, the schedule adjustments provide flexibility and position the conference to pivot and potentially offer an expanded spring segment and competitive opportunities for fall sports in the spring if Division III institutions are permitted to do so and the conference membership would ultimately support.
UMAC soccer and volleyball schedules will consist of the originally scheduled eight conference games and modified six-team conference tournaments. Soccer programs will be permitted to play two additional regular season contests against UMAC members – which would not count towards conference standings – or against non-conference opponents that have followed similar resocialization protocols. Volleyball teams can utilize three additional dates of competition under the same conditions as soccer. Men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s cross country competitions will be limited to UMAC teams only during the regular season with the conference championships remaining as originally scheduled for those sports. No changes were made at this time to UMAC football schedules allowing up to two non-conference contests. Football will continue to be monitored and consistently reassessed as the season draws closer.
During the Council of Athletics Directors contingency planning meeting on Friday, June 26, a formal conference phasing plan for the return to play of fall sports in 2020 was established. The Council of Presidents/Chancellors approved the plan that would require all UMAC institutions to follow for returning student-athletes to campus while granting flexibility for each school to determine its return date for each of its fall sports. The phasing recommendation was developed through guidance and with support of state and local health officials as well as in consideration of the NCAA Core Principles of Resocialization of College Sport and corresponding action plan considerations.
Additionally, the UMAC Council of Athletics Directors continue to discuss an expansive set of conference protocols and processes for conducting in-season practice and competition in a manner that protects the safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, officials, staff and spectators. The conference anticipates the formal protocols will continue to be updated and revised leading up to the fall sports season with formal approval of the protocols expected by the UMAC Council of Presidents/Chancellors in early August.
The UMAC continues to monitor changing circumstances related to COVID-19 as the 2020 fall season approaches. Any decisions made by conference governance groups will continue to be driven by available guidance from local and state health officials and the NCAA Sports Science Institute and are subject to change. UMAC COVID-19 related updates will continue to be provided leading up to the fall sports season and are available on the UMAC COVID-19 Resource Page.