PELLA — While remaining sensitive to local health and safety conditions, Central College officials released details of previously announced tentative winter and postponed fall-season sport athletics schedules.
Central’s football, women’s and men’s soccer and volleyball seasons were postponed until the spring due to the global pandemic and related NCAA testing requirements in those sports. Modified American Rivers Conference schedules in those sports were revealed, along with reduced slates for winter-season sports women’s and men’s basketball, women’s and men’s indoor track and field and wrestling. Each institution is still free to opt out of competition at any point.
“Our approach has not changed,” said president Mark Putnam. “Our top priority remains the safety and well-being of our student-athletes and staff and we are mindful of the serious nature of present public health conditions in Iowa. We are releasing these tentative schedules now for planning purposes but while we are hopeful that these contests can be safely conducted, we will continue to monitor local conditions and respond accordingly.”
Institutions may also schedule non-conference contests, provided the opponent complies with the American Rivers COVID-19 protocols.
Game and meet times have not been set and no decisions have been made on whether spectators will be allowed.
“We anticipate that there will be significant limitations on the presence of spectators, if they are allowed at all,” said athletics director Eric Van Kley. “We’ll rely on state and local guidelines but it’s too early to say with any confidence exactly what things will look like. Our primary focus is on providing competition opportunities for our student-athletes and ensuring that it is safe to do so.”
Van Kley said the college will also rely on the recently updated NCAA return-to-sport guidelines: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/ncaa-issues-updated-return-sport-guidelines
Schedules for the traditional spring-season sports of baseball, softball, women’s and men’s track and field, men’s golf and men’s tennis, as well as non-traditional spring seasons for women’s golf and women’s tennis, are not yet determined.
Winter sport competition opens Jan. 23—Eight-game round-robin men’s and women’s basketball schedules tip off Saturday, Jan. 23 when the Dutch travel to the University of Dubuque for a women’s-men’s doubleheader. The postseason conference tourney will expand to include all nine league teams March 1-6 to determine the conference’s representative in the NCAA Division III Championships. The NCAA tentatively plans to conduct winter championships with reduced fields. The conference tournament will return to a six-team format in 2021-22.
League wrestling teams hope to stage four triangulars, also starting Jan. 23 when Central and Loras College travel to Coe College in Cedar Rapids. The schedule concludes Feb. 13 with the proposed NCAA regional and national tourneys to follow.
A similar series of four triangulars is envisioned for the women’s and men’s indoor track and field teams with Central and Coe traveling to Wartburg College in Waverly to open Saturday, Feb. 6. The men’s and women’s conference championship meets will be conducted separately with the women competing March 5 and the men following March 6 at Waverly.
Postponed fall sport seasons launch Feb. 20— An eight-match round-robin volleyball schedule launches Feb. 20 with the Dutch traveling to Coe. The slate concludes March 20.
The women’s and men’s soccer teams will play eight league doubleheaders. Central opens at home against Coe March 27 and the schedule concludes April 24.
No conference tournaments will be conducted in volleyball or soccer as the NCAA earlier canceled championships in all fall-season sports.
The Dutch football slate will be limited to three games. The league will start play Saturday, March 27 and Central will open April 3 at home against Simpson College. A road contest at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska follows April 10 and Central closes at home against Buena Vista University April 17. No conference champion will be determined.
Central’s women’s golf, women’s tennis and men’s and women’s cross country championship seasons were already conducted this fall, along with the non-traditional fall slates for men’s golf and men’s tennis.
Due to the uncertainty and limited schedules resulting from the pandemic, the NCAA has granted all 2020-21 student-athletes an additional season of eligibility should they choose to extend their time enrolled in classes.