The Panola College volleyball team will get to play this school year — they’ll just have to wait until the spring semester to hit the court.
Men’s and women’s basketball as well as baseball will get a later start than normal.
Following the recommendations from the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council and the NJCAA Board of Regents, the NJCAA has announced its adjusted plan of action for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year. Following the Board of Regents’ vote on Monday, a majority of competition will be moved to the spring semester.
“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO, said. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”
Volleyball is the only fall sport that Panola College participates in, but the vote also moved football and men’s and women’s soccer to the spring.
Panola College Athletic Director Don Clinton would rather have kept the season where it was in the fall, but agreed with the decision.
“I really would have loved it to stay the same,” he said. “But the way the pandemic is going, there really was no choice. I don’t think we’d have been able to finish the season. We would probably have had to suspend it again.
“It was the last effort to stay alive. Many schools in the country are shutting down for the whole year.”
Clinton said PC’s Region XIV foe Angelina College is cancelling its entire sports year, while Lee College and Laredo College are considering it.
Panola Coach Nicole Thorn will still be able to work out with her team in the fall, as they have 60 consecutive days between Aug. 15 and November 15 and can have five scrimmages with two of them in the spring.
They will then resume practice on Jan. 11, 2021 and will start playing a 21-game schedule on Jan. 29. All regular season, region, and district competition completed by April 3, 2021, and the NJCAA Volleyball Championships will be held April 15-17, 2021.
Basketball, which normally starts playing games in November, won’t start playing games until January.
They are allowed 60 consecutive calendar days for practice and scrimmages within Sept. 15, 2020 and December 15, 2020. They are allowed five scrimmages with a maximum of two in the spring. They resume practice on Jan. 11, 2021 and competition will begin Jan. 22 for a 22-game season.
All regular season, region, and district championship competition completed by April 10 and the NJCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championships will begin April 19.
Baseball’s fall practice will be 60 consecutive calendar days for practice and 15 scrimmages within Sept. 5-Nov. 15, 2020.
Practice in the spring will start Jan. 10, 2021 and they can start their 56 game schedule on Jan. 22. All regular season, region, and district competition must be completed by May 23, 2021. The NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series will be held May 29, 2021 through June 4/5, 2021.
“Now we’ll start trying to make up our schedules and try to avoid conflicts,” Clinton said. “Three sports using the gym won’t be the trouble; it will be two buses and four teams needing to use them. There’ll have to be some give and take. It’ll be interesting.
“Baseball and softball are the only ones who didn’t get their schedule reduced. In fact, they’re a little longer. I think they did that because they only got to play about half a season this year.”
Monday’s vote doesn’t affect Panola’s defending national champion rodeo team because it competes in the NIRA and not the NJCAA.
“I talked to the commissioner and he said there are no plans at the national level to make any changes,” Clinton said. “We can socially distance people pretty easy in rodeo because as far as students competing, they don’t have to enter the six-foot area around other competitors.”