The Southland Conference Board of Directors approved a series of 2020-21 competitive standards Wednesday in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting financial restrictions expected in the coming academic year for the Conference and its members. The decisions wrapped up the Southland’s modified Spring Meetings, actually a series of virtual gatherings via video-conference technology.
The league’s university presidents, in consultation with their athletic directors, made a number of changes to postseason championships. In baseball, women’s soccer, softball and volleyball, the top four regular-season finishers will advance to 2020-21 tournaments at the site of the No. 1 seed. Baseball and softball tournaments will feature double-elimination competition. Men’s and women’s tennis teams will also advance their top four regular-season finishers to the tournament as well, but the event will remain in Beaumont, Texas, as previously determined to accommodate coaches who lead both men’s and women’s teams.
The Board did not finalize plans for the 2021 Hercules Tires Southland Conference Basketball Tournament, as the group requested athletic directors and Conference staff to continue reviewing qualification and format scenarios. A final determination will be made at a later date.
In sports without regular-season Conference competition, 2020-21 events will remain as scheduled with all eligible teams participating. These championships include Men’s and Women’s Cross Country in Hammond, La., Beach Volleyball in Corpus Christi, Texas, Women’s Golf in El Dorado, Ark., Men’s Golf in McKinney, Texas, Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track & Field in Birmingham, Ala., and Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field in Lake Charles, La. The track and field events will have limited entries based on regular-season qualifying marks.
At this time, it is expected that the restrictions will only apply to the 2020-21 academic year and previously determined championship site locations will be delayed one year.
In all sports, the presidents approved team travel squad limitations for Conference competitions. Home teams will not be subject to squad limitations.
“With the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the financial restrictions our institutions are expecting in the coming year, the Board of Directors was compelled to take this unusual action,” Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett said. “The presidents and athletic directors took great care to ensure that championship opportunities remain in place for our student-athletes, but also implemented a serious plan addressing the fiscal realities facing the membership. We are all planning for this to be a short-term issue with a return to the normal Conference experience as quickly as possible.”
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