The NCAA Division II Presidents Council last month voted to reduce the maximum number of games allowed across all sports for the upcoming 2020-21 scholastic year.
For Millersville University, the only D-II school in Lancaster County, that means a reduction in athletic contests for its 17 sports, including football (from 11 games last season to 10 games this season), men’s and women’s basketball (28 down to 22), baseball (48 down to 40) and softball (51 down to 44).
“The move was done to assist higher education institutions in its membership base facing unprecedented budget shortfalls because of COVID-19,” Millersville director of athletics Miles Gallagher said by phone Thursday afternoon.
The Presidents Council made the final decision on recommendations from the D-II Management Council, which considered feedback from several leadership groups, including a survey completed by 258 athletics directors, 154 presidents and chancellors, and 23 conference commissioners in which 85% supported some form of reduction to the maximum permissible contests for the 2020-21 academic year. By reducing the amount of games, D-II schools will be able to save money on costs.
“There are still so many unknowns,” Gallagher said. “It’s too early for us to say what savings there will be for us.”
That’s because what phase Lancaster County is in today under Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan may be different than it is in August or September.
For example, the county is currently in the “yellow” phase, which allows for groups no larger than 25 people. So, in theory, a team could break into small groups and workout in shifts, making preseason practices feasible for fall sports teams.
If the county were to move into the “green” phase, groups up to 250 individuals, or 50% of a facility's capacity, whichever is lower, is permissible. In theory, that would make games possible, but the number of spectators might be limited.
It’s worth pointing out here that an average of 2,256 fans attended Millersville’s six home football games last season.
The Centers for Disease Control also recommends for schools that children on school buses seat one child per row and sit every other row. It remains to be seen if the same standard will apply to student-athletes in college. But the parameters lend concern for travel costs possibly increasing.
Then again, there’s the chance the county might be past the “green” phase and back to normal by September, which renders useless all of the concerns listed above.
“So this is obviously a fluid situation,” Gallagher said.
Millersville announced late Friday that it plans to resume in-person classes in August. Meanwhile, Gallagher said the athletic department has been busy planning for an "August return date for preseason camps.”
Here are the maximum number of sporting events allowed for the 2020-21 scholastic year for Millersville’s teams: Baseball (40 games), men’s and women’s basketball (22), women’s cross country (six), field hockey (14), football (10), men’s and women’s golf (16), women’s lacrosse (13), men’s and women’s soccer (14), softball (44), women’s swimming (12), men’s and women’s tennis (17), women’s indoor track & field (14), women’s outdoor track & field (14), men’s wrestling (12).