Greencastle, Ind. - DePauw and its North Coast Athletic Conference partners are continuing plans for fall sports and to engage in competition as outlined by the NCAC.
"The institution has been planning for a safe return to sports with our president, vice president for academic affairs and vice president for student academic life wholly engaged in this conversation along with our medical director/team physician," said Stevie Baker-Watson, DePauw Associate Vice President for Campus Wellness and Theodore Katula Director of Athletics.
"We continue to develop our health and safety protocols which include a common testing protocol and we acknowledge that new schedules will reduce missed class time. Specific information will be distributed by the Athletics Department and individual coaches in the next week."
NCAC Fall Statement
The NCAC Presidents' Council has approved plans for our fall seasons after extensive work from a conference-wide COVID steering committee, as well as working groups, made up of NCAC academic leaders, administrators, faculty representatives, health care professionals, legal counsel and coaches that have been meeting since this spring.
The opportunity to compete safely has been the guiding principle of our work together. Within that framework, the NCAC will provide teams and student-athletes with the most meaningful competitive experience possible, even though it may look entirely different than what we are all used to.
Our athletic programs will establish and follow policies and requirements designed to mitigate risk based on the orders and recommendations of federal, state, and local health departments, the NCAA and the NCAC Health & Safety Committee. We are working to revise conference schedules according to the following parameters and will distribute them as soon as possible:
1. NCAC members will all commit to consistent baseline health & safety protocols, as determined by public health professionals and institutional medical professionals to include a common testing protocol. The specific testing protocol will be developed and approved by the NCAC Presidents' Council no later than 30 days prior to the first contest date. Whenever there is conflict with federal, state, local and campus directives, the more restrictive guidance must be followed. The full NCAC Health & Safety working document will list all required and recommended policies and procedures (daily health screens, masking, etc.). The document will be updated as new national or public health information becomes available.
2. NCAC members will adopt Friday Sept. 18 as the first permissible contest date. Schedules will be backfilled, starting with the weekend traditionally used for NCAC Tournament finals in team sports that have a tournament: Friday, Nov. 6, Saturday Nov. 7, or Sunday Nov. 8. Football will be backfilled from the final weekend of play, Nov. 14. Conference tournaments in team sports will be eliminated for the fall season. Conference championship events for individual sports will be conducted, incorporating any necessary health & safety modifications.
3. NCAC members commit to follow the NCAC adopted phased-in approach to athletic participation and gatherings, or the local, state or federal guidance, whichever is more restrictive. Schedules will be backfilled, so that institutions can return their student-athletes to campus later. As an example, an August 21 first practice allows for the 28 days to move through phase 2 and 3 of the NCAC-adopted phase-in approach, which consists of prescribed activity based on the NCAA Resocialization of Sport Guidelines and allows for a Sept. 18 start.
Should institutions return some or all of their student-athletes earlier than 28 days prior to the first competition, as part of an overall campus return policy, institutions have the option of starting resocialization in NCAA phase 1 on campus, progressing through that for 7-14 days before advancing into the NCAC-adopted phase 2-3. Regardless of return-to-campus dates, the first permissible contest date for NCAC teams will be Sept. 18.
4. NCAC members will play limited conference-only schedules, based on geographical groupings that eliminate overnight travel. All NCAC contests will be played once or twice a week using Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Limited play reduces any potential spread between campuses. It also eases the pressure on an already compressed academic calendar, and potentially expanded daily academic schedules. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will all be used as contest days in order to reduce the load on staff and facilities in any one day.
a. Total contests will be determined with consideration of each sport, as possible. Schedules will be fit into the dates available.
b. NCAC Champions will be crowned per conference standings as outlined in the NCAC Pandemic Policy.
5. NCAC members will maintain consistent, clear, open and transparent communication with the NCAC Office and other member institutions; Members will notify the NCAC Office and ADs of opposing teams from the previous weekend if a student-athlete or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 (AD responsibility). Notification must also be made to the appropriate respective local health authorities, per campus policies. The Conference will maintain an updated list of notifications, shared daily with all member Presidents and ADs. Names of specific student-athletes will not be disclosed publicly.
6. NCAC members recognize and respect the institutional autonomy of members to make more restrictive decisions on competition for their respective campuses.
7. NCAC members will review the above plan as we move throughout the fall season. Should new guidance become available or conditions change due to virus transmission, more restrictive institutional decisions, etc., the conference reserves the right to revisit the procedures as needed. Additionally, the procedures will be reviewed and separate decisions will be made in advance of the winter and spring championships seasons.