A logo sign outside of the headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The NCAA is forcing schools to provide clarity on fall sports with the creation of a deadline for the decision to play. 

The NCAA Board of Governors announced that each division of collegiate athletics will have until Aug. 21 to make a decision on fall sports. The NCAA also put together requirements that each school must follow. 

Established requirements include proper following of return-to-sport guidelines from the NCAA and adherence to state and local guidelines. 

The NCAA will also create a phone number and email for student-athletes, parents and other individuals to report shortcomings in a school’s adherence to protocols. 

“Our decisions place emphasis where it belongs — on the health and safety of college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a release. “Student-athletes should never feel pressured into playing their sport if they do not believe it is safe to do so. These policies ensure they can make thoughtful, informed decisions about playing this fall.”

The NCAA will allow players to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns without losing scholarships. Each school will also be responsible for covering COVID-19 medical expenses of its student-athletes. 

The NCAA also set an Aug. 14 deadline for each division to determine how eligibility will be handled if a student-athlete opts out or the season is canceled and established that if 50 percent or more of teams in division cancel their seasons, an NCAA fall championship will not occur. 

“First and foremost, we need to make sure we provide a safe environment for college athletes to compete for an opportunity to play in NCAA championships,” Emmert said. “A decision based on the realities in each division will provide clarity for conferences and campuses as they determine how to safely begin the academic year and the return to sports.”