Small College Sports

NCAA cancels 2021 Division III winter championships

Low participation numbers cited as reason to call off championships for second straight year

Coe College's Riley Wright (left) faces off against North Central College's Marc Fleenor during their 141 lbs. champions
Coe College’s Riley Wright (left) faces off against North Central College’s Marc Fleenor during their 141 lbs. championship match at the NCAA Division III Lower Midwest Regional Wrestling Tournament at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday, March 1, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

For the second straight year, the NCAA Division III winter championships have been canceled.

According to a news release Wednesday night, the NCAA D-III Administrative Committee approved the recommendation from the D-III Championships Committee to cancel all 2021 winter championships, citing low participation numbers. Winter championships were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The championships impacted by the decision include wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field and men’s and women’s ice hockey.

“Today, we made the difficult decision to cancel our Division III winter championships,” Chair of the Presidents Council and Hamline University President Fayneese Miller said in the news release. “While some institutions have been able to safely return to sport, the recent declaration form data show that more than half of our division has not returned to winter sport practice and competition to be in a position for NCAA national championship participation,

“This was a very difficult decision to make, and we are saddened to do so. However, none of our winter sports meet the Championships Committee’s established thresholds of participation to hold a championship. We are committed to ensuring that our student-athletes have the best possible experience, and, for us, this means having a meaningful number of competitions. We hope this is possible for our spring championship.”

The Championship Committee sent members a form to declare their commitment to compete this season, which would meet the minimum requirements to qualify for the postseason by established selection dates. According to the release, all nine sports were below the threshold set to host a championship. Basketball, swimming and diving and indoor track were well below the 60-percent participation level, while wrestling and hockey were less than 70 percent. Wrestling had the highest level of participation with 61.8 percent of the 109 programs competing, which was just nine short.

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