CAA votes to suspend 2020 football season


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Towson quarterback Tom Flacco celebrates after a touchdown against Villanova on Saturday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Noah Powers, Sports Editor

WILMINGTON—The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) announced this afternoon that it will cancel its 2020 football season.

This schools impacted by this development are Albany, Delaware, Elon, James Madison, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Richmond, Stony Brook, Villanova and William & Mary.

These scheduling changes also mean a number of games against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents will likely be nixed. The CAA was scheduled to play 13 games against FBS opponents, with eight coming against Power 5 teams.

Missing out on these games against higher-caliber competition brings a plethora of financial consequences.

Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams often rely heavily on non-conference games against FBS opponents as a means of revenue. According to USA Today, at least $26 million was set to be dealt to FCS schools for their matchups with FBS opponents.

Scheduled CAA matchups with FBS opponents (in order of date)

*Denotes a matchup with a Power 5 opponent

  • Maine @ Ball State (Sept. 3)
  • Stony Brook @ Western Michigan (Sept. 4)
  • New Hampshire @ Kansas (Sept. 5)*
  • Rhode Island @ Northern Illinois (Sept. 5)
  • Towson @ Maryland (Sept. 5)*
  • William & Mary @ Stanford (Sept. 5)*
  • Elon @ Duke (Sept. 12)*
  • Stony Brook @ Florida Atlantic (Sept. 12)
  • Albany @ Massachusetts (Sept. 19)
  • James Madison @ North Carolina (Sept. 19)*
  • Richmond @ Pittsburgh (Sept. 19)*
  • Villanova @ Wake Forest (Sept. 19)*
  • Delaware @ N.C. State (Sept. 26)*

The CAA is one of several conferences opting to abandon football this year in response to the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Other conferences taking the same measures are the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Patriot League and the Ivy League.

The MEAC includes two North Carolina schools — North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central.

Several Division II and Division III schools have also cancelled football for the upcoming season, with some schools in every division cancelling fall sports altogether.

As of now, no Power 5 conferences have opted to cancel their seasons. However, several Power 5 conferences have adopted a conference-only schedule for the 2020 season. The Big Ten was the first to do so, announcing the switch on July 9. The Big Ten generally plays nine conference games throughout the season, so there will likely be some changes in matchups.

The Pac-12 will also be moving to a conference-only schedule for 2020. Arguably the weakest of the five Power conferences, with only two total appearances in the College Football Playoff (CFP), the forgoing of non-conference games will likely hurt the conference’s chances of making the CFP even more.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) has yet to make a decision on the upcoming football season. Commissioner John Swofford released a statement on behalf of the conference saying: “The league membership and our medical advisory group will make every effort to be as prepared as possible during these unprecedented times, and we anticipate a decision by our Board of Directors in late July.”

The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference (SEC) have also opted to wait until late July to make a decision.

The conference also announced that despite the suspension of conference matchups, CAA member institutions could be allowed to pursue contests outside of the conference. This would give teams “the ability to explore the option of pursuing playing an independent football schedule in the Fall of 2020.”

However, with many other conferences switching to conference-only schedules or cancelling fall sports altogether, this may be a difficult task.

While the CAA’s decision to cancel football does not directly impact UNC Wilmington, it reveals the possibility that all fall sports in Wilmington may also succumb to the pandemic’s unfortunate effects.

As of now, the rest of the CAA’s fall sports are still set to be played. The conference adopted the Extreme Flexibility Model (EFM) back in June which would allow teams to compete in the fall with programs being allowed to play the minimum number of NCAA contests to maintain NCAA sponsorship. With the coronavirus numbers still on the rise, however, this model is likely subject to change.

In a release from UNCW earlier today, it was announced that the university has remained optimistic about competing in the fall.

“The health and well-being of our student-athletes will always be our top priority,” said UNCW athletic director Jimmy Bass. “As we work through the daily changes of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to count on the CDC, state officials, the UNC system, the NCAA and UNCW senior administration for their guidance during this challenging time.”

Sports set to begin later in the fall (men’s and women’s basketball, etc.) are still under review.