On Tuesday, the NCAA Board of Governors is expected to vote on the status of fall championships, including the FCS playoffs.
The 25-member board is “the highest governance body in the NCAA” made up of presidents, athletic directors and commissioners from the FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III along with five independent members, including NCAA President Mark Emmert.
There has been nothing but uncertainty regarding what college athletics will look like this fall. Six FCS conferences have already postponed their fall season while the other seven are waiting to hear what will happen with the playoffs before making a decision.
On Sunday, I reached out to multiple FCS school officials from different regions of the country to get a gauge on what the feeling is like two days before the meeting.
Promised anonymity, school officials expressed the level of uncertainty remains extremely high and there is a chance the decision will be delayed again.
“To be honest, we have no idea what’s about to happen,” an athletic department administrator said. “Our folks have had lots of conversation around the industry and the general consensus is there is no consensus.”
An added element is the Power 5, despite not having an NCAA-sponsored football postseason, wants fall championships to happen so it does not feel the pressure to also postpone their fall season. But then again, the question remains on how much Olympic sports will be tied to football.
“I think most folks would feel the most comfortable if fall sports were suspended. But I think the Power 5 wants to play football so I don’t know how much that is going to dictate everything else,” the administrator continued. “Lots of folks seem to think the Olympics have to be tied to football. I talked to one Olympic coach who would rather football proceed and the rest be postponed. Basically, they understand why football might be better to continue in fall but it would put a lot of other sports at ease to just know that they can plan for spring. Whether we’ll end up there, though, I don’t know, because lots of folks seem to think we can’t do that simply for the optics. So, we’re 48 hours from decision time and don’t know what the decision will be.”
Two athletic directors echoed the statement that the Power 5 is pushing hard for fall championships to happen. And the FCS has also made their hopes of a fall FCS playoff known to the board.
“My gut is that they will not cancel fall championships on Tuesday,” one of the athletic directors said. “Still too much pressure from football schools (both FBS and FCS). We shall see.”
“Power 5 is pushing hard for it and you know the makeup of the Board,” another athletic director said.
Decisions regarding the fall season have been pushed back multiple times. Tuesday may not be the end of it.
“There is a growing sense that [the Board of Governors] will not vote and delay again on Tuesday,” one athletic director said. “I can tell you the frustration is mounting.”
While the board could vote to cancel some fall championships, it’s not known if the FCS playoffs would be included in that vote. One scenario could be to delay the vote and wait to see testing results for football programs as team activities pick up.
“There are a couple of schools of thought,” a university president said. “First, it would be that they delay again until the meeting on the 13th to give schools a chance to come back and see if the safety protocols work. The second is they could cancel all the fall championships under NCAA auspices, which could include FCS. We’re not too sure whether FCS football would get caught up with everything else.”
The first option mentioned by the university president means football teams would begin practice with no clear answer on the fall season happening. But it would allow for schools and the board to analyze testing results when full-contact practices are underway.
“That’s my understanding. But I know a lot of wheels are in motion and things could change.”
The meeting Tuesday is scheduled for 12:30-6 p.m.