Villanova won’t have a chance to build on its Football Championship Subdivision playoff team from last season. The Colonial Athletic Association announced on Friday that the 2020 fall sports schedule has been suspended after a meeting with the conference’s board of directors.
“I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said in a statement. “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”
The CAA’s decision means Drexel’s varsity fall sports won’t be competing this season. Fall Drexel athletes will return to campus when school begins and have the opportunity to work with strength and conditioning coaches. The Dragons are looking into the option of moving fall sports to the spring.
“After conferring with our peer institutions in the Colonial Athletic Association and in the city of Philadelphia, we felt it would not be possible for Drexel Athletics to participate in intercollegiate athletics this fall,” Dr. Eric Zillmer, Drexel’s Director of Athletics, said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, and professional staff are our first priority and we are hopeful that our fall teams will be able to compete in the spring.”
For Villanova, it’s a crushing blow. Quarterback Daniel Smith was returning after passing for 3,274 yards, 35 touchdowns and leading the FCS in points responsible for (288); Justin Covington led the CAA in rushing before tearing his ACL; and wide receiver Changa Hodge had 1,118 receiving yards in 2019.
The Wildcats finished 9-4 last season and made the FCS playoffs for the first time in three seasons. This year’s squad was returning 18 starters and was ranked No. 8 in the Athlon Sports preseason Top 25. Along with its offensive weapons, Villanova is returning Forrest Rhyne, its leader in tackles, and and Jaquan Amos, the team’s interceptions leader.
“I don’t think any of us are shocked, but we are extremely disappointed,” head coach Mark Ferrante said. “My focus is regardless of when our next season is going to be played, I want to try to keep this team intact, so we do have an opportunity to get on the field, compete, and show everybody — including ourselves — what we’re made of.”
The CAA is allowing teams to put together an independent schedule, if they choose. James Madison and Elon are reportedly using the option.
Villanova football is currently exploring all options in regards to its football season. A chance to play an independent schedule in the fall or the possibility of the CAA schedule and FCS playoffs moving to the spring are still options.
“It’s really hard for us to make September or October decisions in July because it moves so fast and the information is so fluid,” Villanova Director of Athletics Mark Jackson said. “I want to focus on making August decisions in July, and that’s what we did today. I think once we get into August and get our kids back to campus, between now and then, we’ll explore every option.”
The decision with football and other fall sports has no impact on Villanova basketball, since it is associated with the Big East Conference. The Big East has eliminated nonconference competitions for the fall, but winter sports remain unaffected.