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Thursday January 28, 2021
NJCAA Shifts Sports; Norse Basketball In January

CLICK the audio button to hear Jack Hall's interview with Matt Johnson.

The National Junior College Athletic Association on Monday approved a plan that will shift fall sports like football to the spring, and delay the start of some winter sports seasons until January.

For Bay College, this means the men's and women's cross country seasons will go as scheduled in the fall, and the baseball and softball teams will play exhibition games in the fall. The biggest change for the Norse will be essentially a ten-week delay to the start of the men's and women's basketball seasons, which normally start play around November 1.

Bay College Athletic Director Matt Johnson likes the plan, saying the student athletes who come to Escanaba will have great opportunities, despite the changes announced Monday for the basketball programs. He is also the men's basketball head coach.

"The effect that it will have on our overall athletic department will be very minimal," Johnson told the Radio Results Network. "When you first look at it, it may look depressing at first glance, but when you actually dig into it, we do get the opportunity to practice for 60 consecutive days in the fall. We still get to play in 22 regular season contests (instead of the usual 30). We still have the opportunity to play for a regional championship."

"And we have the opportunity to play for a national championship. And our student athletes will habe a change to be eligible for regional and national awards, both athletically and academically."

Johnson says despite the disappointment of not being able to keep things on schedule, the fact that the NJCAA has a doable plan is encouraging.

"When you consider the landscape across athletics, at every level, from high school through the professional level, I think we're very fortunate to have a plan in place. I think our Bay College athletes and those at other NJCAA-member institutions, will be able to particiapte in basically full seasons."

Perhaps the least affected Norse Athletic offering is Cross Country.  Their earliest practice date is now August 1, well before classes are set to begin at Bay College (August 17).

Both Men's and Women's Cross Country will be allowed ten competition dates with the Division 2 Cross Country Championship being held on November 14 at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, IA.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the most affected sport at this point is Men's and Women's basketball.  The NJCAA has indicated that basketball will have a fall practice period of 60 consecutive days between September 15 and December 15.  They will shift to a spring championship season this year, with practice beginning as early as January 11, 2021. 

Competition can begin on January 22, while both teams can play a maximum of 22 games.

Basketball will be able to hold five scrimmages with outside teams, with a maximum of two of those scrimmages falling in the spring.  The NJCAA Men's and Women's Championships will begin on April 19, which means all regional and district tournaments are set to be completed by April 10.

Baseball and Softball also saw some changes, mostly to their fall scrimmage season.  Both sports will be permitted 60 consecutive days for practice and scrimmages beginning as early as September 5 and ending by November 15.  During that time teams are able to conduct scrimmages with outside teams.  Baseball will be limited to 15 scrimmages during that time, while softball will be limited to 7 scrimmage dates.

The Spring Championship Season was left relatively unchanged at this point.  Teams can start practice as early as January 10.  Baseball is allowed a maximum of 56 games against outside competition, while softball is allowed 30 dates of competition in the fall.

The Division 2 Softball Championship will be held from May 25 to May 29, 2021, while the Division 2 Baseball World Series begins on May 29, 2021.

Now that a plan is in place, Johnson says the hard work begins on a school-by-school level.

"We are essentially back to square one on scheduling," Johnson said. "As much as that doesn't excite me to have to do, I'm mjust very happy that we get the opportunity for our kids to be able to play. I've already sent off E-Mails to 40 or 50 schools and contacted about four or five coaches via phone in the past half our since the announcement was made."


Following the recommendations from the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council and the NJCAA Board of Regents, the NJCAA has announced its adjusted plan of action for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year. Following the Board of Regents' vote on Monday, a majority of competition will be moved to the spring semester.

"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."

The most recent plan of action shifts all close-contact fall sports to the spring semester. These sports include football, men's and women's soccer, and court volleyball. The NJCAA cross country championships for all three divisions and half marathon championships will remain as their originally scheduled dates in the fall as well as Division III women's tennis. 

All winter sports competition will begin in January with a majority of championship seasons moved from March to April. These sports include men's and women's basketball, wrestling, and swimming and diving. Men's and women's bowling and men's and women's indoor track and field will be held at the beginning of March.

Spring sports competition remains intact with minor adjustments to dates. These sports include baseball, softball, beach volleyball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's lacrosse, track and field, and men's and women's tennis.

Along with the adjustments to competition season and championship dates, the NJCAA has provided information as it relates to scrimmage and practice dates and allowances in the fall.

Championship dates are subject to change based on championship facility availability.

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