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Atlantic 10 reformats schedule in seven sports, as a result of Covid-19 pandemic

The Atlantic 10 Conference will regionalize and condense its conference schedule by 25% in seven sports, effective for the 2020-21 school year.

The conference announced the changes Thursday, and those changes will impact the regular seasons in field hockey, volleyball, men’s and women's soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse.

The Atlantic 10 also announced that it will reconfigure its championships in six sports. The top four teams will qualify for the conference championships in volleyball, men’s and women's soccer, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse.

St. Bonaventure is a member of the Atlantic 10, and fields teams in men's and women's soccer, baseball and women's lacrosse.

The changes, conference commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said in a statement released by the Atlantic 10, were a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national economic crisis, which has impacted higher education. They were designed to minimize travel and missed class time, to facilitate a safe environment and conserve costs.

“The decisions made, including revisions to our conference schedules, championship formats, policies and procedures were extremely difficult,” McGlade said. “However, each was considered and discussed with empathy, in consideration of the health, welfare and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and overall athletic programs.”

“These are extraordinary times and the athletic directors are leading in extraordinary fashion as evidenced by their willingness to make smart, hard decisions for the 2020-21 season while remaining committed to staying focused and resilient as circumstances in our world of athletics and academia change on a daily basis. The hope is that there will be a return to campus and classes with the ability to implement the necessary Covid-19 protocols for the fall semester. Should this not occur, the conference is prepared to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate with medical professionals all decisions in the best interests of our student-athletes and programs.”

The NCAA announced in March that it would allocate $225 million to 350 Division I schools. That is far less than the $600 million that was originally planned. Bona athletic director Tim Kenney told The News last month he anticipated the athletic program would receive from 50 to 67% less from the NCAA and Atlantic 10 than in past years.

The changes in the scheduling and championship formats will take effect only for the 2020-21 school year, but will not affect competition in men’s or women’s basketball. The men’s basketball media day, which was held last year at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will instead be held virtually this fall.

The Atlantic 10’s sport committee meetings and administrative/governance meetings will also be held virtually; earlier this week, the conference held its annual spring meetings virtually.

The Atlantic 10 is one of three Division I conferences to announce that it has reformatted its regular-season schedules or its championships.

The Mid-American Conference, which includes the University at Buffalo, announced Tuesday it will eliminate postseason tournaments in baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse and field hockey. Conference champions will be determined in the regular season in field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball. Nine other sports will also have altered championship formats, including an eight-team bracket for men’s and women’s basketball and a four-team bracket for volleyball.

The Southern Conference, which includes East Tennessee State, Wofford, The Citadel and VMI, announced Thursday that it will reduce the number of teams qualifying for its conference championships to the top four regular-season teams in men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and baseball. The Southern Conference will also reduce its conference baseball series from three days to two and its men’s and women’s golf championships from three days to two.

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