NJCAA Reverses Decision To Restart Sports This Fall; Games Will Now Start In January

Less than three weeks after announcing sports would return this fall, the National Junior College Athletic Association has postponed the 2020-2021 season until the spring semester. 

The decision—approved this afternoon during a meeting with the NJCAA Board of Regents—comes in the wake of surging coronavirus infection rates nationwide in recent weeks. 

Athletics at Miami Dade College were originally canceled on March 13 in response to the coronavirus

“This is not a perfect world. This is not a perfect situation,” said NJCAA President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher J. Parker during a webinar following the vote. “This is as close to perfection that we can get right now given our understanding and abilities to adapt and kinda move in this direction.”

Most of MDC’s athletic teams—baseball, softball and men’s and women’s basketball—will begin playing regular season games on Jan. 22. Volleyball will begin its season on Jan. 29.  

Prior to the NJCAA decision on Monday, volleyball was scheduled to start regular season games in August and men’s and women’s basketball were scheduled to start in October. 

“Obviously, with the pandemic the way it is right now, keeping our students and employees safe for all Colleges is what is important,” MDC Athletic Director Alysia Dyer said a few hours before the decision to delay the start of fall sports was announced.

Teams will be allowed to practice during the fall semester. Schedules will vary from sport to sport. 

Volleyball will practice from Aug. 15 through Nov. 15 and resume on Jan. 11. They can play seven scrimmages throughout the year—five in the fall season and two in the spring semester. 

“Everything they’re doing is for something better in the end,” said sophomore libero Paola Pimentel. “If the season started now, it was going to be with a lot of modifications. I hope in January it’s going to be more like a normal season.”

Baseball and softball can start practicing on Sep. 5 through Nov. 15 in the fall and resume on Jan. 10 in the spring. There will be a maximum of 15 scrimmages allowed for baseball and seven scrimmage dates for softball.  

The last teams to begin practice will be the men’s and women’s basketball teams. They can practice between Sept. 15 and Dec. 15 in the fall and resume on Jan. 11 in the spring. Both teams will be allowed to have seven scrimmages throughout the year—five in the fall and two during the spring. 

“Athletes want to play, but they also are conscious there is a new normal with COVID-19  guidelines,” said Lady Sharks head women’s basketball coach Susan Summons.” They are in full support to keep reducing or limiting the exposure.”

Athletes will not be required to enroll full-time during the fall semester in light of the modifications, but they are encouraged to enroll so they meet their graduation requirements, Parker said during the webinar. 

Lady Sharks head volleyball coach Origenes “Kiko” Benoit said moving volleyball to the spring semester will affect recruiting because that is typically when he scouts for new players but he believes the players’ safety overrides those concerns.

“This is what we have to do to play,” Benoit said.“I’m hoping that in six months things are better so we don’t have to worry about anything. I think it’s the right decision.”

Staff writer Heidi Perez-Moreno contributed to this report.