(Sioux City, Iowa) – The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Council of Presidents (COP) has released today the following information regarding the fall sports season for 2020:
The GPAC Return to Play Task Force has been working to start the process of what fall sports will look like for this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force is comprised of individuals from member institutions of the league, and reports to the GPAC COP.
The conference will continue to form best practices to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among its member institutions and their student-athletes (along with the general student population), while conducting competition this upcoming school year.
The GPAC has established that student-athletes may begin practice (as defined by the NAIA) no earlier than Saturday, August 15, 2020.
Competition, both conference and non-conference, may begin no earlier than Saturday, September 5, 2020, in the sports of volleyball, soccer, cross country, tennis, baseball, and softball. Football competition will start no earlier than Saturday, September 12. These dates will allow adequate time for training and conditioning prior to regular season competition.
Additionally, the following fall sports will have a reduction in the maximum number of contests:
Football: 9 games (GPAC schedule)
Cross Country: 7 meets (GPAC Cross Country Championship in November)
Men’s & Women’s Soccer: 14 games (GPAC Tournament in November)
Women’s Volleyball: 22 dates (GPAC Tournament in November)
The sports of Golf, Tennis, Baseball, and Softball will remain within already established parameters as defined by the NAIA (including conducting the GPAC Fall Championships for golf in late September and early October). These sports compete in both the fall and spring semesters.
“The GPAC is committed to the best possible experience for our student-athletes,” said GPAC Commissioner Corey Westra. “The GPAC will continue to develop contingency plans for the upcoming academic year, including planning for the winter and spring seasons as necessary. In all our planning the health and safety of our student-athletes will remain at the forefront of all our decisions as a league.”
The Return to Play Task force will continue to meet over the summer to set further policies for the league including, but not limited to: game operation protocols, medical aspects, and fan attendance at GPAC contests.
“Today’s announcement is the first step of many as we make progress towards returning to having intercollegiate athletics in the GPAC for 2020-21,” added Westra.