Several mid-major NCAA conferences to reduce costs for upcoming soccer season
A growing number of NCAA Division I mid-major conferences are unveiling plans to shorten or eliminate their postseason soccer tournaments, in an effort to reduce expenses as athletic programs have been hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the ‘Power 5’ conferences – SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and PAC 12 – are still mulling their final decisions for this year’s fall athletic season, other conferences with smaller budgets have already taken enough of a financial hit to require significant changes.
Soccer is just one of several sports that won’t have a postseason tournament for at least the next year in the Big Sky Conference, while the Mid-American Conference (MAC) has eliminated its tournament for at least the next four years. Both the Big Sky and Mid-American Conference will award any automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament to their regular season champions.
Three more Division I conferences – Atlantic 10, Southern and Big South – will be reducing their men’s and women’s soccer postseason tournament fields from eight teams down to four, allowing the events to be played over the course of a single weekend.
The Atlantic 10 will also play 25 percent fewer conference games during the regular season. The condensed schedules will be more regionally-focused, in order to cut down on travel and missed class time, while also reducing expenses for athletic programs which may be facing budget concerns as a results of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the NCAA has extended its ongoing ‘dead period’ for in-person recruiting through June 30. This sets up the potential for college recruiting to begin by mid-summer, as youth soccer organizations move toward resuming competition.