The Southland Conference Board of Directors approved a series of 2020-21 changes to postseason championships.
In baseball, women’s soccer, volleyball and softball, only the top four regular-season finishers will advance to the conference tournament. The regular season champion will host the tournament at their site. Baseball and softball tournaments will feature double-elimination competition.
Men and women’s tennis will also only feature the top four regular season finishers, but the event will remain in Beaumont.
“I wish the circumstances were different and we didn’t find ourselves in a position where these adjustments were necessary,” said Allen Ward, director of athletics. “But the fact is all members are facing unprecedented financial pressures, and it was important that we act accordingly.”
The Board did not finalize plans for the 2021 Hercules Tires Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. However, a final decision is expected to be made at a later date.
“I don’t believe we have to be in any hurry to make a decision on basketball,” Ward said. “Basketball is unique in that there are several other factors that must be considered such as the league television agreement and contractual obligations in Katy.”
In sports without regular-season conference competition, 2020-21 events will remain as scheduled with all eligible teams participating. These championships include Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Beach Volleyball, Men and Women’s Golf and Men’s and Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field. The track and field events will have limited entries based on regular-season qualifying marks.
“With the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial restrictions our institutions are expecting in the coming year, the Board of Directors was compelled to take this unusual action,” Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett said.
It’s also expected that these restrictions will only apply to the 2020-21 academic year and previously determined championship site locations will be delayed one year.
“The presidents and athletic directors took great care to ensure that championship opportunities remain in place for our student-athletes but also implemented a serious plan addressing the fiscal realities facing the membership,” Burnett said. “We are all planning for this to be a short-term issue with a return to the normal conference experience as quickly as possible.”