KETK – College athletic conferences and leagues across the country have been in flux, trying to figure out how to handle fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Well, on Monday, we got the answer from the National Junior College Athletic Association, as they are moving the majority of fall sports to the spring.
Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” stated Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO. “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.Dr. Christopher Parker
There are 54 football teams playing NJCAA schools in the U.S. and here in East Texas, which would include Kilgore College, Trinity Valley, and Tyler Junior College.
Jacksonville College, Panola College, Angelina College, Navarro College, and Paris Junior College are other Piney Woods JUCOS impacted in men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball.
“It’s come down, to in order to give our athletes the best opportunity to have a season we felt, and it passed, moving all of our fall sports into the spring,” said TJC associate vice-provost Dr. Tim Drain, who is also the NJCAA board member for Region XIV.
“I think our job as administrators and looking out for what’s the best is to try to find the best path of ones we would rather not take but I think that this is the best path,” added Drain.
With this new plan in place, football practice will begin March 1, with the season starting March 25.
Teams will play a maximum of seven games, with the national championship and bowl games starting June.
Kilgore College second-year head football coach Willie Gooden said the fellow members of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference are on the same page.
“We wanted to make sure that whatever we did, we wanted to kind of, remain together to stand and make a united front. We all got together we all thought that was pretty much the best for the entire conference,” said Gooden.
Football teams will be able to practice this fall from August 13 to October 10 and will be allowed to schedule up to two scrimmages with other schools if they feel that they can do so safely.
The other fall sports will begin preparing for their regular seasons on January 4th.
The announcement also gives schools until July 27 to decide if they want to not field a team in any particular sport for the entire school year. In other words, just skip the 2020-21 academic year all together.
Basketball teams will begin practice on January 11 with the season starting on January 29. The 29-game season will end on March 27 with championships to begin on April 19. However, they will also have a chance to workout in the fall and hold scrimmages with other schools.
Under this announcement, Division 3 cross county and half marathon will not move seasons and will continue with competitions in the fall.
Watch the videos to see Garrett Sanders’ story.