The National Junior College Athletic Association’s Board of Regents approved Monday a plan to move most fall and winter sports to the spring for the 2020-21 academic year as a precaution against the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Only men’s and women’s cross country will run during their scheduled season under the plan, which alters the athletic landscape for 20 colleges in Michigan that compete at the NJCAA level.
Under the plan, NJCAA volleyball teams will be limited to 21 competition dates and can hold matches as early as Jan 29, 2021, while men’s and women’s soccer teams can play up to 14 games beginning as early as April 2.
As far as winter sports go, men’s and women’s basketball teams can begin playing their maximum of 22 regular-season games on Jan. 22, with national championship rounds happening in late April.
Other Michigan junior college programs affected include the winters sports of wrestling, bowling, swimming and diving and indoor track.
Spring sports competition remains intact, with minor adjustments to dates.
For a complete list of start dates and competition limits for each sport, click here.
“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” NJCAA President and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said in a press release. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”
Among the state’s top teams affected by the nationwide changes include the Muskegon Community College and Schoolcraft College men’s basketball teams, which both earned top-five seeds in the NJCAA tournament, the undefeated Macomb Community College women’s basketball team and the nationally ranked Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team.
“We want our student-athletes to be able to compete in the safest possible environment,” GRCC President Bill Pink said in a press release. “This is an unprecedented move, but we are living in extraordinary times. We respect the NJCAA decision, and we will continue planning with recent guidance while keeping the academic success, safety and the health of our student athletes as the top priority.”
The new schedule will also have ramifications at the Division-I level, as fall sports programs looking to recruit the junior college ranks will have to wait until well after National Signing Day in February to see a full season of highlight tape from potential prospects.
While there aren’t any NJCAA football programs in Michigan, there are several Division-I college programs in the state that recruit the JUCO ranks, and it will be interesting to see how the move from fall to spring affects that recruiting front.
Michigan’s colleges that participate in athletics at the NJCAA level are:
– Alpena Community College
– Delta College
– Glen Oaks Community College
– Gogebic Community College
– Grand Rapids Community College
– Henry Ford Community College
– Jackson Community College
– Kalamazoo Valley Community College
– Kellogg Community College
– Kirtland Community College
– Lake Michigan College
– Lansing Community College
– Macomb Community College
– Mid Michigan Community College
– Mott Community College
– Muskegon Community College
– Oakland Community College
– Schoolcraft College
– St. Clair County Community College
– Wayne County Community College