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NJCAA moves fall sports to spring while MACC weighs options

The national junior college football season is officially off the fall athletic calendar, but Mississippi is still holding out hope.

In a meeting on Monday, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) decided to adjust its calendar for the 2020-21 school year, moving fall sports to spring 2021. The moves were made due to the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest spike in cases across the country.

The decision made by the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council and Board of Regents included moving football, which will have a major ripple effect when it comes to what potential rosters may look like in the spring with the usual December graduates who look to enroll early at a four-year school in January.

“Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes,” said Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO. “Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”

Mississippi has not signed off on football being removed from its traditional fall season. There are 54 NJCAA schools that have football programs, with 14 of them residing in Mississippi. The Magnolia State has produced some of the best football teams at the JUCO level, with Mississippi Gulf Coast the reigning NJCAA national champion.

During the vote, the representative for the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges abstained from the proceedings, which has put the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Junior Colleges (MJCAC) in a holding pattern.

“The Region 23 representative to the NJCAA Board of Regents, upon the recommendation of the MACC presidents, voted to abstain on the final vote regarding moving most sports to the spring,” Read MACC’s official statement following Monday’s vote. “While we are concerned about the health and safety of our student-athletes, personnel and fans, we believe they are best served by waiting for other conferences and organizations to make a final decision regarding fall sports.”

A junior college football season could still be played in Mississippi if the MJCAC chose to become independent and break away from the NJCAA. Doing so would make them ineligible for the national championship picture, something Mississippi has been a contender for on a near-yearly basis.

The recruiting calendar has not been altered as of now. The early December signing period is still scheduled, but due to COVID-19 there is no clear idea of how that will go this year, with the recruiting dead period continuously extended by the NCAA. The dead period currently runs through Aug. 31.

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