NAIA announces changes to fall sports season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ( – The NAIA Council of Presidents (COP) announced the changes to the 2020 fall sports season Thursday, due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The changes include a return to play ‘threshold’, a short delay to starting the season and a reduction in the number of contests allowed.

1. Return to Play Threshold
The COP Executive Committee approved the use of a threshold system as a guideline for determining return to play. The threshold goal is for approximately half the participating institutions in each sport to receive clearance from local authorities to return to competition before the season can begin. For example, NAIA football has 95 participating institutions. When half (47) of these programs gain clearance from authorities to play, the NAIA football season will be authorized to begin.

2. Delayed Start Dates
Assuming the ‘Return to Play’ Threshold has been met, the earliest start date for football games will be on Sept. 12, while all other fall sports can start competition on Sept. 5.

All sports can begin team practices on Aug. 15.

Currently, the NAIA intends to host all fall national championships events as scheduled.

Dakota State had originally scheduled two football games prior to Sept. 12, and several volleyball matches were scheduled prior to Sept. 5.

Both programs are working on adjusting their 2020 schedule to meet the NAIA guidelines. Stay tuned to the DSU Athletics website for updated schedules.

The cross-country team is not impacted with this delayed start date. They are scheduled to compete in their first meet at home on Sept. 12 at the Madison Country Club.

3. Maximum Number of Contest Allowed
With the delayed start dates, the maximum number of football games allowed has been reduced from 11 games to 9 games. Volleyball has been reduced from 28 dates to 22 dates. Cross country has been reduced from 8 meets to 7 meets.

The new NAIA guidelines for a shorter, delayed season means that DSU, the North Star Athletic Association and schools around the country will be adjusting their fall schedules in coming weeks. The limitations will result in a reduced non-conference schedule.