The traditional fall sports season at UCSB and at all of the other Big West Conference institutions has been postponed through the end of the calendar year, the conference board of directors announced Wednesday.
The board of directors is made up of the chancellors and presidents of the 11 Big West member schools.
The conference-sponsored fall sports include men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The board’s decision also covers the fall schedules for men’s and women’s golf, and men’s and women’s tennis and sports in their non-traditional segment.
Men’s water polo, which plays in the Golden Coast Conference, also will not be playing in the fall months, according to coach Wolf Wigo.
Wigo said the conference plans to announce its decision by Aug. 4.
“However,” he noted, “UCSB has said we will not be participating either way.”
He expects the GCC will most likely push to play in the spring.
The move to postpone the fall season raises the issue on UCSB hosting the NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup. The 2020 national semifinals and final were scheduled for Dec. 11 and Dec. 13 at Harder Stadium.
The NCAA has yet to make a decision on its Division 1 fall championships.
John McCutcheon, UCSB’s director of athletics, said he has been in discussions with the NCAA about possibly rescheduling the College Cup in the spring.
He admitted that “it would be hard to host that right now. We don’t know what is going to happen and we don’t know what’s going to happen with all championships of the NCAA. We’re going to have to stay tuned a little bit.”
In the decision by the Big West, the board recognized the continued serious challenges to health and safety on Big West campuses and communities impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As for fall sports returning in early 2021, the Big West board said a decision will be determined at a later date and be based on conditions and circumstances that are in the best interests of the student-athletes.
“The return to campus of student-athletes is allowed for Big West institutions but will be done at the discretion of each institution,” the board said. “On-campus athletic-related activity will follow strict compliance with NCAA regulations, institutional policies and public health guidelines.”
The Big West’s decision to postpone the fall season falls in line with what high school and community college sports governing bodies have done in California. The California Interscholastic Federation and the California Community College Athletic Association readjusted their sports calendars and plan to start their fall sports seasons in late December, January and February.
McCutcheon thinks the Big West could do the same.
“It would be really unusual, obviously,” he said. “Certainly, if the NCAA would shift fall championships to the spring, we’d find some way to be involved with that. It would be crazy; there would be some real challenges with facilities when games might happen and that kind of thing. And, probably (the games) would be without fans because I don’t know if (the pandemic) is going to be totally resolved even by the spring.
“But if there is any way we can have something in some kind of good experience for student-athletes, then we would try to do that.”
The Big West said the winter sports of men’s and women’s basketball are not impacted by the board’s decision. Both are scheduled to begin their competition seasons on Nov. 10.
“Health and safety of Big West student-athletes, coaches, staff and the campus community continue to be the preeminent priorities for the CEOs of the conference’s 11 institutions,” the board said. “As medical and scientific data rapidly evolves surrounding the pandemic, the conference will continue to monitor developments and will consider additional actions as needed.”
— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.