The California Community College Athletic Association board of directors approved its contingency plan recently, providing a return to intercollegiate athletics for the 2020-2021 academic year that shifted all sports, including football, to the spring season.

The contingency plan was among three potential scenarios approved by the board in early June. Each plan included blueprints that are dependent on which phase of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic the state of California was in on the CCCAA’s previously announced July 17 decision date. The return to athletics in January will only occur if it is safe to do so, a decision that will be guided primarily by state and local health guidelines.

Mt. San Jacinto College athletics programs will see their starting dates pushed back to January 2021. Valley News/AC Sports photo

The CCCAA has 110-member colleges and approximately 24,000 student-athletes, which includes local community colleges like MSJC and Palomar College. MSJC’s usual fall sports including football, women’s soccer, women’s golf and women’s volleyball, as well as “winter” sports men’s and women’s basketball, are among those that will be seeing their starting dates pushed back until January 2021.

The most elaborate of the plans was the conventional plan, which kept all sports except men’s and women’s basketball in their traditional places on the calendar. The plan was reliant, however, on California being in Phase 4 of its reopening by mid-July, a likelihood that’s diminished in recent weeks. The board, based on a recommendation from the CCCAA’s COVID-19 Work Group, decided to approve immediate implementation of the contingency plan rather than wait for July 17.

The contingency plan originally had men’s and women’s cross-country and women’s golf competing in the fall but was slightly modified in its latest version to move those three sports to the spring with the remainder of the CCCAA’s 24 sports. They will start practice in mid-January and begin competition in February along with basketball, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling. Badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and men’s volleyball are scheduled to start practice in late March before commencing competition April 10.

Palomar College’s athletics programs are part of the California Community College Athletic Association, which has 110-member colleges and approximately 24,000 student-athletes throughout the state. Valley News/Courtesy photo

All sports will have a 30% reduction in the maximum number of contests or competition dates that they are currently permitted and will also have regional postseason competition. Formats for the postseason will be announced at a later date. The CCCAA will not have state championships in 2020-2021.

“We were very hopeful that we could go forth with the conventional plan,” Jennifer Cardone, interim executive director for CCCAA, said. “It’s the closest to what everyone is used to and provides for the least disruption to our student-athletes and colleges. Unfortunately, California’s reopening progress has slowed, and it has become apparent that we would not be in position to put it into action by last week.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staffs are our top priorities,” she said. “While the contingency plan has the most drastic changes, it’s also the one that provides us the best opportunity to return to competition.”

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.