The Atlantic 10 will condense schedules for seven teams next academic year in response to concerns over COVID-19, according to a release Thursday.
The conference plans to “condense and regionalize” playing schedules for field hockey, volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse by 25 percent next season. The 2020-21 championship circuit for volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse will now feature a four-team playoff, the release states.
The A-10 also plans to conduct men’s basketball media day, sport committee meetings and administrative meetings virtually to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the release.
“The decisions made, including revisions to our conference schedules, championship formats, policies and procedures were extremely difficult,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in the release. “However, each was considered and discussed with empathy, in consideration of the health, welfare and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and overall athletic programs.”
The pandemic forced the A-10 to scrap the remainder of spring seasons and cancel winter and spring championships. All changes to next season were made to reduce cost, minimize travel and allow for teams to play in a “safer environment,” the release states.
Several squads traveled outside the DMV last season to take on competition. Volleyball played two-day and three-day tournaments in Florida, North Carolina and Texas. Men’s soccer traveled across the country for a game in Portland, Oregon. Baseball traveled to Louisiana for a three-day tournament and to Knoxville, Tennessee to battle the Volunteers prior to its season ending early.
Softball traveled to Mexico, playing in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in its first international tournament in program history. The squad also played two back-to-back tournaments in North Carolina.
Prior to the A-10’s announcement, eight programs competed at the men’s and women’s soccer championships, seven baseball programs vied for the conference crown and six programs battled for women’s lacrosse, softball and volleyball titles, respectively.
The release states that the smaller championship pool allows for competition to be completed in one weekend, which will boost safety for athletes and minimize travel. Previously, men’s and women’s soccer championships stretched over a two-week period, softball and baseball’s tournaments lasted five days, while a winner for the volleyball and women’s lacrosse’s championships were determined in three days.
The A-10 is preparing for sports to resume in the fall semester. Should that plan change, the conference will reassess “in the best interests of our student-athletes and programs,” according to the release.
“The hope is that there will be a return to campus and classes with the ability to implement the necessary COVID-19 protocols for the fall semester,” McGlade said in the release.