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NCAA cancels Division III winter championships for a 2nd time amid COVID-19 pandemic

Jason Owens
·2-min read

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that it is canceling the 2021 Division III winter championships, citing low participation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news marks the fourth straight season of Division III championships impacted by COVID-19. The NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring sports at the onset of the pandemic in March. In August, the NCAA canceled all fall championships run by the organization. The College Football Playoff, which is not run by the NCAA, went on as scheduled.

COVID-19’s lingering impact on NCAA

When the Division III council announced its decision to cancel fall championships, it did so with the goal “to maximize the championships experience for our winter and spring sport student-athletes, who unfortunately were short-changed last academic year.”

But now Division III winter championships are canceled for a second straight year.

“While some institutions have been able to safely return to sport, the recent declaration form data show that more than half of our division has not returned to winter sport practice and competition to be in a position for NCAA national championship participation,” Presidents Council chair Fayneese Miller said, per the announcement.

“This was a very difficult decision to make, and we are saddened to do so. However, none of our winter sports meet the Championships Committee’s established thresholds of participation to hold a championship.”

A detail of an official NCAA Men's Basketball game ball made by Wilson is seen on the court as the Iowa State Cyclones play against the Connecticut Huskies during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Division III winter sports are the first to lose a second season of championships to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NCAA Division I basketball tournaments still on

Winter sports include basketball, which is still scheduled to hold championships in 2021 at the Division I level. Last year’s NCAA tournaments were among the first major sporting events canceled in the United States. The NCAA is moving forward with a plan this year to hold the entirety of this year’s men’s basketball championship in Indianapolis.

The NCAA similarly plans to hold the Division I women’s basketball championship in a single location, though the city has yet to be determined. San Antonio, which was already slated to host the Final Four, is considered a leading candidate.

Sports impacted by decision

Other sports impacted by the Division III cancelation include men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s ice hockey and wrestling.

The Division III council is holding onto hope that it can salvage spring championships.

“We are committed to ensuring that our student-athletes have the best possible experience, and, for us, this means having a meaningful number of competitions,” Miller said. “We hope this is possible for our spring championship.”

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