The NCAA has already announced the cancellation of all of its fall sports championship events because of COVID-19, but the Southeastern Conference plans to play on.
The league announced Thursday its start dates and formats for team competitions in men’s and women’s cross-country, soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf.
SEC soccer and volleyball teams, which usually play all their matches in the fall, will participate in spring competition as well. Details of formats contingent on final decisions by the NCAA to conduct spring championships in those sports.
“The girls are just excited to have the opportunity to compete this fall,” LSU first-year soccer coach Sian Hudson said. “We’ve made a huge amount of progress in the four weeks we’ve been going and feel over the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to refine the game plan and be ready for the Sept. 18.”
The SEC established Sept. 18 as the start date for soccer with eight matches taking place over an eight-week span, culminating with the SEC Championships Nov. 13-22 in Orange Beach, Ala.
“Just being able to compete for an SEC Championship, be in Orange Beach during our competition season is the highlight of the calendar,” said Hudson, whose team completed its fourth week of preseason workouts. “They’re fired up and ready to go. I think the announcement today will motivate them even further.”
Volleyball will embark on an eight-match conference-only schedule that will take place over a six-week span beginning Oct. 16.
“The kids are super excited,” LSU volleyball coach Fran Flory said. “This team is super close and have stayed together. It’s been a matter of when can we play and originally that was supposed to be Sept. 1 at Tulane. Now it’s Oct. 16 and they’ll be ready to go.”
Men’s and women’s tennis and golf always play split fall and spring seasons.
Also, fall practice activities and intra-squad games are permitted in the sports of baseball and softball, but exhibition games against outside competition is prohibited in the 2020 fall semester.
The SEC announced in July that student-athletes in all sports who elect to not participate in intercollegiate athletics during the fall 2020 academic semester because of health and/or safety concerns related to COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.
Here’s the revised format for the fall sports:
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
- Season runs September 11-October 23
- Seven (7) weeks of competition
- Compete in a minimum two (2) events (maximum of three) prior to SEC Championships set Oct. 30 in Baton Rouge
- No restrictions on opponents; must adhere to SEC Testing protocol the week leading into competition
- No more than 10 teams may compete in a single race
- Schools may not compete in consecutive weeks
- Season runs weekend of September 18-November 8 (eight total weeks)
- Eight (8) regular season matches plus at least two (2) matches at the SEC Tournament
- Regular season includes six (6) divisional opponents and two (2) crossover opponents (4 home/4 away)
- One (1) match per week – play dates will be either Friday, Saturday or Sunday based on campus activities & television.
- Matches may move to Thursday on the fifth weekend of the season for make-up dates.
- 14-team Conference Tournament – Nov. 13-22 in Orange Beach, Ala.; each team guaranteed at least two (2) matches
- Season runs weekend of October 16-November 27
- Six (6) weeks of competition
- Compete against four (4) opponents; same opponent twice in the same weekend
- Eight (8) total matches
MEN’S and WOMEN’S GOLF AND TENNIS
- Teams may compete in up to three team events
- Competition can take place no earlier than October 1
- Teams are limited to events involving only SEC members or non-conference teams from the school’s geographic region