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The minimum number of contests required in Division II for sport sponsorship and championships selection, as well as the maximum number of contests and dates of competition allowed, will be smaller than in years past as a result of financial impacts from COVID-19.

The Division II Presidents Council in a teleconference Tuesday voted for reductions in all three areas strictly for the 2020-21 academic year. IUP is a member of Division II.

The division’s highest governing body voted to reduce the minimum number of contests needed for sport sponsorship and championships selection by 33 percent. The council voted for a one-year reduction to the maximum number of contests and dates of competition, as well. These reductions varied by sport, based on results from a survey administered to presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics and conference commissioners.

The maximum numbers of games permitted was set at 22 for basketball and 10 for football. The minimum number was set at 15 for basketball and five for football.

All three reductions stemmed from financial struggles Division II institutions are facing due to the pandemic. Many institutions, per feedback from leadership throughout Division II, will not be able to afford the same level of travel or meet current standards for championships selections or sports sponsorship, even if sports begin as scheduled in the fall term.

In addition, concerns of competitive inequity also have been expressed from across the division if maximum numbers for playing and practice seasons were not adjusted along with reductions to the minimums.

“The financial challenges faced by institutions because of COVID-19 are considerable and, as we prepare for summer and fall, continue to increase,” said Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “The approved reductions strike an important balance of providing schools with scheduling flexibility, maintaining competitive equity within the one-year reductions to minimums and maximums, and continuing to prioritize opportunities for student-athletes to compete in NCAA championships. Periods of national crisis require carefully considered compromise.”

As part of this decision, men’s and women’s basketball teams will not be able to exempt contests as part of a conference challenge event or in the Tip-Off Classic for the 2020-21 academic year. Typically, teams can exempt these contests from their maximum contest total.