The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a plan to conduct the championships for fall sports in the spring on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The plan was completed once the Football Championship Subdivision committee came to an agreement on the playoff bracket for the revised football season.
The Cal Poly teams affected by the ruling are Women’s Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, and football.
In July 2020, the Big West Conference announced that fall sports competition would be postponed until the end of the calendar year. Since then, the conference and NCAA have been working toward a return to sports that is safe for all players and students.
One of the most influential changes made for this upcoming season is the change in bracket sizes for the playoffs. In all team sports, the bracket size will be 75 percent of the normal size.
In football, the amount of playoff teams shrunk from 24 to 16 teams while Men’s Soccer saw their bracket reduced from 48 to 36 teams. Women’s Soccer and Women’s Volleyball each will allow 48 teams into the playoffs, dropping off from 64 squads.
As a result of this reduced bracket size for each of the team sports, the amount of qualifying teams and the amount of at-large teams changed as well. Eleven of the 16 teams in football will be automatic qualifiers, while the remaining five teams will be chosen at large.
Men’s Soccer will have 24 automatic qualifiers and 12 at large teams, while Women’s Soccer’s playoffs will include 31 automatic qualifiers and 17 at large teams. Women’s Volleyball will have 32 automatic qualifiers and will allow 16 at large squads.
As part of the NCAA’s plan, championship dates for each fall sport were also announced. Men’s and Women’s Cross Country will compete for their national title on March 15, Men’s and Women’s Soccer from May 13 to 17, Women’s Volleyball from April 23 to 25, and football sometime between May 14 and 16 with the exact date still unknown.
The seasons for these typically fall sports will begin in the winter season of 2021 and go through the beginning of spring. Men’s and Women’s Soccer will begin their quests for a championship on Feb. 3, the Cal Poly cross country teams will start their season on Jan. 23 and Women’s Volleyball will get their start on Jan. 22. The Mustang football team has yet to release their updated schedule for the Spring.