MAC announces plan for rescheduled fall season, NCAA grants extended eligibility


A stadium employee from housekeeping helps wipe down seats before a game between Central Michigan and Toledo March 11 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, OH.

The Mid-American Conference announced a plan to play a season in four fall sports that had been postponed in the spring of 2021. 

Each of the four sports, volleyball, men's and women's soccer and field hockey, will play a modified, conference-only schedule while adhering to strict protocols. There is still a plan being worked on in men's and women's cross country. 

In volleyball, teams will play 22 conference matches over a 10-week schedule that begins on Jan. 22. Each team will play the same opponent twice in a weekend, with one match on Friday and a second on Saturday. The conference will hold a four team championship to determine the conference's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament at the highest seed's venue on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3. 

Both men's and women's soccer will play a 10-game schedule that will begin on March 4. Each team will play two games a week, playing on Thursdays and Sundays. The regular season will end on April 11 and the conference's two top teams will play in the championship on Saturday, April 17. 

In field hockey, each team will play between 13 and 14 matches beginning on March 12. Twelve of these matches will be conference contests, with each team scheduled to play conference newcomer Bellarmine during its bye week. Games will be played on Fridays and Saturdays. The conference's regular season champion will be the NCAA Tournament automatic qualifier. 

Every fall and winter sport athlete at the Division I level is expected to receive an additional year of eligibility due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA announced the decision to award winter sport athletes eligibility relief on Oct. 14.