CCIW postpones fall sports season

  • North Central College and head football coach Jeff Thorne, middle, will not get to defend their Division III national championship this year as the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin canceled its fall sports season on Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    North Central College and head football coach Jeff Thorne, middle, will not get to defend their Division III national championship this year as the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin canceled its fall sports season on Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of North Central College

 
 
Updated 7/27/2020 4:44 PM

North Central's football team is going to have to wait awhile to defend its Division III national championship.

How long the Cardinals wait is still unknown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But this fall's season was postponed Monday along with all College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin fall sports. The 10-school league includes North Central, Wheaton College and Elmhurst University.

North Central football coach Jeff Thorne, who led his team to a 41-14 victory over Wisconsin-Whitewater last December to win the program's first national title, wasn't surprised.

"I'd be lying if I'd say it's not disappointing," Thorne said. "But it's also where we're at. I think it's what had to be done. We're moving forward with a positive approach and excited about the opportunity to get back to school in the fall and things we are able to do with our players.

"Certainly we were excited about the opportunity to defend the national championship, but we're still going to get to do that when we get a chance to play again for a championship. Right now that's been taken off the table. I'm not spending a lot of time thinking about what might have been this year. All is not lost. We're just going through a really tough period in the world and our country."

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The decision came after a unanimous vote by the conference's Council of Presidents. The CCIW will postpone men's and women's cross country, football, women's golf, men's and women's soccer, women's tennis, and women's volleyball.

The conference will explore playing fall sports in the spring. They will move league championships for women's golf and women's tennis to the spring. A decision on winter sports will be made in the coming weeks.

"You could see this coming in the last couple weeks and conversations with our athletic director and assistant athletic director, our administration, our trainers," Thorne said. "It was almost inevitable we were going to get to this point. You see more and more teams at our level postponing. You just saw the writing on the wall."

Thorne said the recent NCAA guidelines on testing made it almost impossible to play Division III football.

"It just became really cost prohibitive for schools without Division I athletic budgets to be able to withstand the cost of testing in a weekly basis just to get to game day," he said.

Thorne said if there's no spring football, this year's seniors will be welcomed back next fall. It's uncertain just how many will choose that option.

"The most successful teams come next year will be the ones that hold onto their players," Thorne said. "There is a lot that goes into that. This isn't the scholarship level where these guys have scholarship money that will be waiting for them. They have to do some juggling to make that work, The guys who are losing their senior year possibly, my heart goes out to them. Obviously don't want to put added pressure on them but we'd love for them all to come back."

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