Big East moves to conference-only schedule for fall sports


Courtesy of UConn Today

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman

The Big East announced on Thursday that they are canceling all non-conference games for the fall season. But the earliest the Big East will begin its conference season is in October, a source confirmed to The DePaulia on Friday.

For DePaul, the current plan is to bring back soccer players for workouts by Aug. 24. But, according to an athletic department spokesperson, plans are currently fluid and can change based on how the city reacts to an uptick in coronavirus cases.

Sports like volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer tend to start their seasons in August. Since there will be no non-conference games this season, starting the conference schedule in October gives the Big East more time to evaluate how the coronavirus pandemic is being handled.

“If we have fall seasons (sic), a starting date of around October 1 would make sense,” a source told The DePaulia.

The Big East’s decision to go conference-only comes after the Big Ten and the Pac-12 also moved to cancel all non-conference competition for the fall season. Sports that are impacted by the Big East’s decision are men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and field hockey. 

The conference also said there has been no decision made as of yet regarding fall sports conference competition and championships. 

In the coming weeks, the Big East will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions across the country and in Big East communities and will provide further updates on dates and formats as appropriate,” the conference’s statement read. “All decisions regarding fall conference competition will continue to be guided first and foremost by the health and safety of Big East campuses and their athletics program participants and will be made in accordance with NCAA actions and policies.”

In June, the Big East announced a new schedule for conference games in the fall. Instead of having everyone play each other, the conference created geographical divisions for volleyball, field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer. 

“The decision announced today by the Big East and its membership continues the commitment of the league and its institutions to student-athlete safety and well-being during these unprecedented times,” DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto told The DePaulia. “As we prepare for our student-athletes to return to campus in the coming weeks, we are modifying our facilities and protocols to provide all of the essential elements under local and state guidelines to provide the best possible student-athlete experience and support in academics as well as strength and conditioning and practice this fall.”

DePaul, who does not have a field hockey program, will play in the Midwest division, which also consists of Creighton, Xavier, Marquette and Butler. The East division consists of Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, St. John’s and returning member UConn. 

Men’s and women’s soccer divisional opponents will face each other twice in a double round-robin format, while volleyball opponents will play each other four times. The changes were approved by the conference’s athletic directors, according to the press release. 

A source told The DePaulia on Thursday that DePaul’s golf and tennis teams will not participate in competitions in the fall, but will be allowed to practice. 

No decision has been made yet regarding the winter and spring sports, including the Big East’s plan for basketball. The DePaulia was also told by a source that DePaul is planning to bring back men’s basketball players for workouts in July, but there is no specific date in place right now.

Update (July 17, 2020): This story has been updated with new information about when the Big East will start