The University of Richmond and William & Mary will explore the possibility of playing spring football seasons after CAA Football on Friday pulled the plug on the concept of competing during a pandemic.
League members James Madison and Elon continue to investigate the viability of fall football as independents.
That divergence of paths doesn’t bother the CAA commissioner, Joe D’Antonio, whose geographically spread conference has 12 schools that belong to five different leagues for their other sports.
“We’re going to do the best we can as a conference to support programs that are in both positions,” he said Friday. “I think as each institution made a decision as to where they were with this situation, they were all analyzing a bunch of different factors. Difficult to identify one specific tipping point.
“Certainly, everyone has said they continue to make decisions based on the health, safety and well-being of their student-athletes and their campus communities.”
W&M athletic director Samantha Huge said in a school release, “the university’s philosophy for the fall is to radically limit visitors to campus — and that includes visiting athletic teams.”
John Hardt, UR’s vice president and director of athletics, in a school release said, “it became clear that suspending fall sports was necessary to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, our campus, and the community.”
There were also concerns throughout the FCS about costs of testing protocols and whether playing football in the fall was worth the risk without many fans observing because of social-distancing policies, and in the absence of a lucrative TV deal that would provide a revenue stream.
Eligibility issues won’t be clear until it’s determined whether there will be football played by CAA members in the spring.
“What none of us know 100% today is, ‘Can a fall season occur?’ and 100%, ‘Can a spring season occur?’” said D’Antonio. “As it relates to questions and issues associated with eligibility, we’re probably going to have to have those questions answered first before the NCAA can ultimately decide what the answers to the eligibility questions are.”
According to D’Antonio, all 12 programs are firmly committed to CAA Football in 2021 and beyond. Schools will manage football practice activities through the school year so they proceed in compliance with institutional, federal, state, NCAA, and local guidelines.