Last month, the Ivy League announced its decision to cancel all 2020 fall sports amid the COVID-19 outbreak. After their announcement, the collegiate sports world wondered what would be next? Will the FBS Power 5 (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) follow suit and potentially lose out on tens of millions of dollars? What will the smaller, Group of 5 conferences with less resources do? For Temple’s athletes, staff and supporters, there is finally some clarity.
The American Athletic Conference, home to 15 of 18 athletic programs for the Owls, formally announced plans and timelines Wednesday for the 2020 fall sports season. This comes after the conference’s board members consulted with their COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, athletic directors and senior woman administrators. The plan details that fall sports will indeed be played out this season, with football, men’s & women’s soccer, and volleyball engaging in intra-conference play. Every team in the AAC will be allowed to schedule non conference opponents on their schedule, at their discretion, as long as the program follows the safety guidelines of the conference.
The President of the University of Memphis, and the Chair of the AAC’s Board of Directors, M. David Rudd had this to say about the conference’s fall plans:
“With the guidance of the health experts on the COVID-19 Medical Advisory Board and through the diligent work of the athletics staffs at our schools and at the conference, we have a sensible direction for the return of intercollegiate athletics in the fall.”
Rudd also stated that the safety of students, staff, and campus communities will continue to be top priority.
The intra-conference portion of the schedule will begin September 19. Each team will play 8 conference games on their regularly scheduled dates. As stated before, non conference scheduling is up to the discretion of each school. Temple was originally scheduled to play the ACC’s Miami Hurricanes, Idaho, Navy and UMass in non conference play. It is unclear as of now if these games will be played as scheduled, as teams need to take each conferences own guidelines and protocols into account. The conference’s championship game will be hosted by the team with the best regular season record on either December 5th, 12th, or 19th.
Note: each team will be required to be screened for COVID-19 prior to each game.
Like football, teams can schedule non conference opponents at their own discretion after Sept. 1st. The men’s and women’s championships will be at the 4 Mile Creek Resort on Halloween Saturday in Augusta, Kansas.
The six teams in the conference will play a 10 match, double round-robin (teams will all face each other twice) style schedule starting September 5th. Each game will be played on Saturdays (or Friday/Sunday in the event of a football game occurring at the same time). Matches against non conference opponents will be played midweek as long as the opponent meets the guidelines of the AAC. The midweek games may not be scheduled if a team has to utilize air travel or spend the night in a hotel. The Men’s Soccer Conference Championship will consist of four teams and will be played either on Nov. 12-14 or Nov. 13-15 at the site of the team with the best record.
Note: if the number 1 seed is unable to host in the event of state or local travel restrictions, the next highest seed will host
AAC women’s soccer consists of 9 teams who will all play an 8 match, single round robin (each team will face each other once) conference schedule starting Sept. 1st. The same midweek, non conference scheduling protocols for the men’s league applies to the women. The four team Women’s Soccer Conference Championship will be held Nov. 6-8. Like the men’s championships, the number 1 seed will host with the next highest seed hosting in the event of travel restrictions.
The AAC is implementing a two division format for the 2020 season. Each division will play each other in double round robin play. Temple will play in the East Division, alongside UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, and USF. The West Division will consist of Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State. The Women’s Volleyball Conference Championship will be hosted by The University of Cincinnati and will take place Nov. 21-22. The two best teams from each division based on their regular season records will compete for the conference title.
AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco, also gave his statement regarding the conference’s announcement, also stressing that the top priority of the conference is the safety of the student-athletes.
“With the guidance and advice of our Medical Advisory Group, which has done an outstanding job developing health and safety protocols, we have developed a collaborative and comprehensive plan that will allow us safely and reasonably to play our fall sports. Our plan provides us with the flexibility to adapt to potential disruptions to our schedules. I want to thank our board of directors, our Medical Advisory Group, athletic directors, senior woman administrators and conference office staff for their thoughtful input and approach to what is one of the most challenging situations we will face.”
There is no word on what will be done for the winter and spring sports as of right now, but it can be expected that the conference will take similar measures for those seasons as well. There is also no word on fan/media attendance, as that will be left up to state, local and school officials.
For Temple’s athletes and staff, the wondering and waiting on if and how their seasons will played is over, and now they can focus solely on the season ahead and staying healthy throughout.