NCAA announces winter sport national championship cancellation

Samira Kassem

IWU and other schools across the nation are part of the NCAA Division III.
Photo: Samira Kassem

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced February 3 that Division III winter championships would be canceled for the 2020-21 academic year. 

In their press release, the NCAA pointed to low participation rates as the cause for the cancellation. 

Sports affected by this announcement include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s and women’s indoor track and field. 

Although these sports at IWU have continued to have a season in accordance with CCIW guidelines, many schools within Division III have cancelled winter seasons completely. 

According to the NCAA, a participation rate of 70 percent is necessary for a sport to hold a national championship competition. 

Less than half of all DII basketball, swimming and diving and indoor track and field teams are competing this season. 

“We have been training and preparing as if there was not going to be an NCAA meet already with the focus on the CCIW triangulars. It’s been an incredible blessing to have a few meets under our belt knowing nearly half of the teams in DIII are not even practicing” head track coach Chris Schumacher said. 

IWU coaches are hard at work encouraging their athletes and keeping their spirits up. 

“Spirits were down at first but we all came together and just sort of shook it off. I think our coaches and captains did a great job at telling us to shake it off and move forward and to focus on how lucky we are to have the ability to compete in the first place” sophomore track star Addison Bendery said.  

The CCIW will, however, hold conference championships for these teams. 

In the case of track and field and swimming and diving, conference champions will be named based on a running list of results throughout the season. 

“It’s not an easy pill to swallow. It’s just hard for everything these student-athletes have gone through these last 10 months academically, athletically and socially. My heart is broken for them, but they will persevere and stay positive. We’ll try to figure out a way to make the best out of the situation we’re in” Athletic Director Mike Wagner said. 

Both basketball teams are currently ranked in the top ten in the country. 

“I can only keep my sentiments simple.It is a shame that the Division 3 winter sports athletes have lost 2 championship seasons” women’s basketball coach Mia Smith said. 

Many student athletes, however, have not allowed this to discourage them. 

“No team in the conference knew what to expect this year. We’re approaching it full speed though because, well, it’s just that we’ve got this thing about losing; it’s just not us” standout track runner Rebekah Harden said. 

As of current, no announcement has been made about spring sports.