In an unsurprising decision the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics postponed the football postseason playoffs and national championship on Friday to the spring of 2021.
“It is not a surprising decision,” Pete Stanton, Dickinson State’s athletic director and football coach said. “We anticipated that was going to happen with several schools not being able to play in the fall.”
Despite the decision, the North Star Athletic Association will continue to push forward with their nine-game, conference-only schedule for the fall.
Although there are currently no more changes to the planned Sept. 12 start date, the only foreseeable switch up may be to add another bye week or two since there are no longer any postseason plans in the fall.
That would give flexibility should something happen with the pandemic and a game needs to be rescheduled.
“We are going to stay the course. All sports, including football, will play this fall,” Stanton said. “The only change will be that the NAIA had reduced the number of games down to nine, and they are going to expand the number of games back up to 11 now. That will give the option to teams and conferences if they want to do a split fall and spring season.”
Stanton said that ideally in this new situation, the North Star’s conference champion would play their nine conference games this fall and then play two non-conference games next spring to get back in form for the playoffs.
Stanton is not a fan of the move due to the many logistical hurdles playing then.
The Blue Hawks are trying to win their sixth straight NSAA conference title, and if they succeed, there are many questions that need to be answered.
“(One question) with the split season is what about eligibility,” Stanton said. “What do you do with players who have graduated already? What about teams who are recruiting players to early enroll for next spring semester for a fall sport,” he said. “There are still a lot of unknowns if we will even get to that point.”
Dickinson State also has several football players who participate in track and field and a couple who are set to play baseball in the spring. The track athletes have already had one season taken away from them last spring, and next season will be Dickinson State’s first baseball season in a couple years so that is another dilemma to solve if it happens.
“That is going to be a big dilemma for a lot of people and a headache,” Stanton said. “That is why we decided that we wanted to do as much as we can in the fall.”