Peach Belt Conference athletic directors have committed to fulfilling conference schedules for the 2020-21 athletic year.
This announcement, released Thursday by the league office, came a day after the NCAA Division II Presidents Council announced reductions to the number of minimum and maximum games allowed to be played this upcoming athletic year.
"We fully support the NCAA Presidents Council and their decision to reduce the amount of contests for 2020-21," said PBC Commissioner David Brunk in a statement. "What our athletic directors indicated with their vote is that we as a league are committed to playing our full slate of conference games in all team sports, with the freedom to make adjustments if they become necessary. With the constantly changing landscape regarding the return to academics and athletics given the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to say with certainty what exactly our regular seasons will look like this year, so our focus will be on our conference schedules when we do take the field once again."
The schedule reductions apply in three ways and vary by sport. The minimum number of contests needed for sport sponsorship and championship selection was reduced by 33% in addition to the reduction of the maximum number of contests and dates of competition.
These reductions come as a result of financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the PBC to announce on March 13 the cancellation of the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year. Many athletic departments will not be able to afford their usual level of travel or compete in enough events to meet the standards set for championship selection or sport sponsorship.
The maximum number of contests was also reduced to address concerns of competitive inequity and keep all teams in the same range of contests played.
“The financial challenges faced by institutions because of COVID-19 are considerable and, as we prepare for summer and fall, continue to increase,” said Dr. Sandra Jordan, USC Aiken chancellor and chair of the Division II Presidents Council, in a statement. “The approved reductions strike an important balance of providing schools with scheduling flexibility, maintaining competitive equity within the one-year reductions to minimums and maximums, and continuing to prioritize opportunities for student-athletes to compete in NCAA championships. Periods of national crisis require carefully considered compromise.”
The PBC's affirmation to maintain conference schedules as planned means non-conference schedules will shrink for most sports.
In USCA's case, baseball is down to 40 games after scheduling 51 this year; men's and women's basketball are down to 22 from 30 and 28, respectively; men's and women's soccer are down to 14 from 15 and 16, respectively; softball is down to 44 from 50; and volleyball is down to 20 from 29.
Cross country's maximum is set at six events – USCA's men ran in five and the women ran in six, including the PBC championship. Men's golf is capped at 16 – the Pacers had 10 regular season events scheduled for this spring.
Men's and women's basketball teams will not be able to count games from conference challenge/crossover events or the Tip-Off Classic, games which are typically exempt from the maximum total, toward the 22-game maximum for 2020-21.
All final decisions regarding the PBC's schedules will be made by the league's Board of Directors, which will meet virtually next week.