LA GRANDE — The new championships dates for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics 2020 season — which the NAIA recently moved to the spring of 2021 — have been set.
The NAIA’s National Administrative Committee on Thursday, Aug. 20, announced when the championships for football, soccer, cross-country and women’s volleyball will be played, with those seasons set to culminate in April or May.
The NAIA football championship will have a look similar to what the NCAA Division I championship game has had in recent years in that it will be played on a Monday. May 10, 2021, is the scheduled date for the football title game, which will be played at Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, according to a press release from the NAIA.
The release stated it’s the first time the football title game will be played on a Monday.
The men’s soccer championship game also will be played May 10, 2021, with the first games at the final site — NAIA is in final talks to move the final-site contests to Blanchard Woods Park in Columbia County, Georgia — set for May 4, 2021. The women’s soccer final-site contests will be played a week earlier — April 27-May 3, 2021 — in Foley, Alabama.
The women’s volleyball final site is staying in Sioux City, Iowa, and runs the same week as the women’s soccer matches, April 27-May 1, 2021.
The earliest of the championship competitions — cross-country — is set for April 9, 2021, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Playoffs, for the sports requiring them, all begin in mid- to late April. The opening round series for women’s soccer is set for April 15-17, 2021. That is the same weekend as first-round games for volleyball and football, both of which are scheduled for April 17, 2021. Opening games for men’s soccer run a week later, April 22-24, 2021.
Individual conferences have the autonomy to set their schedules, and Eastern Oregon University Athletic Director Anji Weissenfluh said the Cascade Collegiate Conference started discussions this week.
The Frontier Conference, which EOU football is part of, is also meeting to discuss its schedule.
Weissenfluh said CCC Commissioner Rob Cashell has formed subcommittees of athletic directors, coaches and other administrative personnel will take a few days to lay out a potential slate for the season.
Weissenfluh added there is a possibility of having nonconference contests as well.
“I think originally it was conference-only when we announced the Cascade Conference was going to do this (move to the spring),” she said. “Now that the NAIA is more aligned with moving it, I really believe we could be open to having those discussions. ... That’s a conference decision, but I do think we’re open to having those discussions.”
While nothing is set yet, she said, contests could potentially begin in late January for some sports and early February for others.
She said a basketball subcommittee was scheduled to meet this week to discuss the Nov. 1 date that currently is the earliest conference teams could begin competition. Weissenfluh noted the moves by other conferences to a later start date at the NCAA Division II and Division III level — which CCC teams often play in nonconference slates — could impact what the CCC does.
“A lot is really fluid right now,” she said. “We’re hard at work trying to nail this stuff down.”