Mark Emmert: No NCAA championships this fall due to coronavirus pandemic
6:38 PM ET
  • Heather DinichESPN Senior Writer

    • College football reporter
    • Joined in 2007
    • Graduate of Indiana University

NCAA president Mark Emmert said Thursday there won’t be fall NCAA championships because there are not enough schools participating due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — a decision that impacts 22 championships, including FCS football.

“The board of governors also established if you don’t have half of the schools playing a sport, you can’t have a legitimate championship,” Emmert said in a video posted on the NCAA’s Twitter feed. “We can’t in any Division I NCAA championship sport now — which is everything other than FBS football that goes on in the fall. Sadly, tragically, that’s going to be the case this fall, full stop.”

The number of schools fell below 50% on Wednesday when the Big East announced its fall sports wouldn’t be played.

“I’m not sure now that it impacts what we’re doing in football that we’ve continued to move forward,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, chair of the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee. “Just because there’s no championship at the end doesn’t mean the whole fall is ruined for those student-athletes.”

Lyons said some FCS schools still plan on playing nonconference football games, but unlike in the FBS, where the national champion is determined through the College Football Playoff, FCS football won’t have its NCAA-sponsored championship. When asked about the optics of that discrepancy, Lyons noted the Big 12’s plan to test its athletes three times each week — on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

“There’s always going to be the optics of that, but from our conference, when we went through this, we added a couple extra layers of testing as part of our requirement,” he said. “And that wasn’t only going to apply to football, that is going to apply to all of our fall sports. … Are we still going to be competing in those other sports in the fall? I don’t have that answer yet. As a conference we haven’t discussed it.”

Emmert said the fall sports should still turn to the winter and spring and try to create a legitimate championship for all of those students.

“My staff has been working hard on it, and talking to a lot of commissioners — all of them, all 32 of them in D-I, and there are ways to do this,” he said. “I’m completely confident that we can figure this out. If schools and conferences want to move forward, and try and have it and more than half of them want to do it — and that’s surely the indication now — then let’s do it. We can use the fall and keep kids healthy, keep them engaged with their coaches and their athletic departments. Focus on their academic success. Work with them and let them practice and stay ready to play, then let’s go compete at that time.”

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