W.S. Scott Auditorium will sit quiet and empty come September.

So will City Ball Park and the newly-christened Ed Hargrove Field, as well as the entire Cowley Athletic Complex.

The National Junior College Athletic Association decided Monday to postpone the fall sports season, moving all events to the spring.

In addition, the winter sports season has been delayed until January, 2021.

Cross country and bowling are the only sports that are expected to compete in the fall season in the NJCAA. Cowley does not field a bowling team.

“Following the recommendations from the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council and the NJCAA Board of Regents, the NJCAA has announced its adjusted plan of action for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year. Following the Board of Regents’ vote on Monday, a majority of competition will be moved to the spring semester,” the NJCAA said in a press release.

Fall sports affected include men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, and volleyball. The fall baseball and softball exhibition seasons have been canceled, as those sports already compete in the spring.

“It’s crazy. I’ve never even thought about canceling a season for something that, at the time, no one could see,” Cowley athletic director Shane Larson said. “The week before the cancellations occurred in March, I was at the University of Liberty track meet and everything was fine. Nobody has had a playbook for a situation like this before.”

The NJCAA cross country championships for all three divisions and half-marathon championships will remain as their originally scheduled dates in the fall, as well as Division III women’s tennis. 

“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” NJCAA President & CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said in the release. “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.”

In moving to the spring, it is important to note that the sports season has not been moved to the natural spring, but the school spring season.

According to Larson, basketball teams can begin practice Jan. 14. Volleyball will begin practices Jan. 11, about a week before basketball.

Wrestling has already been moved to Jan. 4, with competitions starting Jan. 20.

The soccer teams can begin practicing March 15, with competition starting April 2, similar to football.

“All the fall sports are going to move to the spring, but they are allowing for 60-day practice periods — 60 calendar days for fall practice, regardless of their seasons,” Larson said. “So all fall will be nothing more than an hour or two a few days a week. That’s a very long time without getting the training going, so they approved a 60-day window (Aug 15-Dec. 15) where you can have a limited number of practices.”

Spring sports competition remains intact with minor adjustments to dates. These sports include baseball, softball, beach volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, track and field, and men’s and women’s tennis.

“Along with the adjustments to competition season and championship dates, the NJCAA has provided information as it relates to scrimmage and practice dates and allowances in the fall,” the release states.

Championship dates are subject to change based on championship facility availability. And that can throw another money wrench into things, especially for venues that share fields or arenas.

“We’re in the process of determining what we want to propose at this point,” Larson said. “We don’t know the final say, but we’re hopeful that the presidents will allow some type of competition in the fall. We have to have time to figure out all the safety and testing protocols. My hope is that by opening scrimmages in the fall, we can do it without risk to the athletes and staff.”

It is undecided at this time whether the Jayhawk Conference will allow nonconference opponents. If the KJCCC does allow nonconference dates, Larson said the Tigers could theoretically compete against Southwestern College in many sports, thereby cutting down on travel. Most competition against the Tigers and the NAIA Moundbuilders involves junior varsity teams.

“We’re doing a lot of things to bring kids in, keep them separated. There’s no way to guarantee 100 percent that you’re not going to be exposed to it,” Larson said. “For athletics, it’s an exception to the rule. You can’t play soccer or basketball effectively with a mask on. There’s going to be contact.

“We not only have to protect student-athletes and staff, but we need protections in place for our boosters. Just because there’s a fear-factor put there, it doesn’t mean things have to come to a complete halt.”

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