The American Athletic Conference announced Tuesday that all soccer and volleyball competition has been postponed until the spring.
A decision regarding cross country “will be forthcoming pending further NCAA clarification,” per the conference’s release. But an official postponement there is a mere formality at this point.
For you Olympic sports fans, that's all, folks. Well, for now.
The UCF Knights' 2020 soccer and volleyball campaigns didn't end in a whimper. They didn't even get that far. The silver anniversary of UCF's entrance into the FBS (formerly Division I-A) world is all that remains this fall.
How did it come to this?
Let’s hit the fast-forward button and skip ahead, past the introduction of COVID-19 to the world, past sports shutdowns that followed, including March Madness and the spring college seasons.
It started with the Ivy League announcing on July 8 that it would hold no fall sports in 2020. The Ivy is viewed by some as the canary in the coal mine. They were the first to cancel their postseason basketball tournament in March and the rest of the world followed. Classes went online, the world shut down, and we’ve been trying to piece it back together since.
Lots of schools had to slash budgets, cut salaries and even sports. UCF has thankfully been able to avoid cutting any sports for now by offering fewer sports than many other schools. Heck, multiple schools have had to permanently close their doors because of COVID-19’s impact on their respective institutions. While most are smaller private schools, even a larger school like Akron had to shut down individual colleges. This goes beyond sports.
Once again, the Ivy League took the lead and others followed.
The FBS, with larger-scale financial responsibilities, was not immune to the threat of COVID-19. While it seemed like the power conferences were going to work together, it ultimately boiled down to everyone covering their own butt. Each conference created new scheduling philosophies that focused primarily on in-conference games with either a toned-down or completely absent non-conference slate. The reasoning given was the conferences have more control of what goes on among their member schools.
One day after the Ivy’s move, the Big Ten caught everyone off guard by announcing it would schedule only in-conference games for this football season. But the Pac-12 and the SEC followed. The Big 12 and ACC allowed for a single out-of-conference game with constraints. The Mountain West agreed on two such games while the American, Conference USA and the Sun Belt tried to keep their original schedules intact. Nine of the ten FBS conferences voted and released an official position. The only FBS conference that had yet to announce its plans was the Mid-American Conference.
While this was going on, lower-division conferences started shutting down their fall sports completely, including football. The FCS saw one conference after another fold on the fall. The Ivy started it as stated above, but the Patriot League, the MEAC — home to a team on UCF’s 2020 football schedule, Florida A&M — the Colonial Athletic Association, the SWAC and the MAAC all postponed or canceled their fall sports.
By July 30, more than 50% of Division I schools had done away with this season of fall sports, which automatically triggered a cancellation of each sport’s 2020 NCAA championship. Nearly 30 Division II and III conferences had postponed or canceled their fall sports by the end of July as well.
On Aug. 8, the MAC finally made its decision and shocked everyone by postponing its fall sports. The Mountain West followed two days later and, like the MAC, held out hope that those sports could resume in the spring.
That left eight conferences standing: All of the Power 5 and three from the Group of 5.
Then Black Tuesday hit.
On Aug. 11, the Big Ten announced that it was postponing fall sports and would attempt to try again in the spring. That decision was anything but unified, with Nebraska saying that it would still look for options to play football in the fall, and Ohio State publicly denouncing the move. An hour and a half later, the Pac-12 took its ball and went home.
Two days later, as a result of so many conferences postponing their fall sports, the NCAA made official what had already been decided and nixed its sponsored fall championships. Just like in the spring, there will be no national champions this fall. The only exception is FBS football, where the NCAA does not hold jurisdiction.
At this point, the still-kicking conferences had a choice to make: Do you keep your Olympic fall sports active in an effort to, among other goals, uphold the perception of amateurism in college athletics, or do you push everything overboard except for football for unstated but evident financial reasons?
On Aug. 21, that question started to get answered as Conference USA moved its fall Olympic sports to the spring. However, C-USA is still pressing on toward a football season.
It took a few days, but the AAC has followed suit. One could argue this was expected.
OK, enough doom and gloom. So now what?
Well, the UCF Knights are charging on with their football season, so there’s that. If you were able to DVR the UCF Day on ESPNU back on Aug. 8, you have eight football games right there to help during those mid-week lulls. One replay per week would cover the majority of a normal season.
YouTube is also loaded with games. Funny enough, every one of the games that was on ESPNU is already available on YouTube, so you can make up for not having those eight games recorded. There are plenty more UCF football games you should watch, too. Maybe we can get lucky and UCF will stream the 2007 Conference USA Championship Game somewhere.
I guess we could go for a walk.