Emporia State, Washburn respond to NCAA Division II game cuts

(WIBW) - Faced with financial uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NCAA division II athletic directors across the country were faced with a decision to make: whether or not to approve shortening seasons.

"It is going to be a big disappointment," ESU athletic director Kent Wesier said. "I think in the spirit of things, everyone bitterly or reluctantly approved it saying yeah, this is something, we don't want to do it, but yet faced with what we're all going to be faced with, this is one way to do it rather than losing an entire season."

The pandemic forced athletics to come to a grinding halt in March. Washburn's track team was preparing for nationals when they got the news the season was over.

"That was tough to swallow," Washburn head track and field coach Cameron Babb said."But, you know, athletes tend to be pretty resilient, and you know they'll find the bright spot and the silver lining."

That silver lining for now: DII college sports are still set to go on, though in limited capacity.

Each sport's cap on the maximum number of games they're allowed to play has been cut.

With decisions still looming on the fall sports season, football will allow 10 games instead of 11, while volleyball drops six matches, to no more than 20.

Among other sports, basketball goes from a maximum 26 games to 22. In addition, conference challenge and tip-off classic events will count toward the total this year, rather than being exempt.

Softball drops 12 games, to 44, while baseball loses 10, allowing only 40 games instead of 50.

"If you put all the hours they put into their sport, whether it's football or any other sport, any time you cut a game, it's a big deal," Washburn head football coach Craig Schurig said.

It's bittersweet, but for athletes and coaches, it's the first conversation in a while about getting back on the field.

"It's a little bit of a pick your poison. Something's got to be done. The financial situation here is not going to go away overnight."