The Big South Conference will delay moving its basketball championships to Charlotte for one year as part of a package of cost-cutting moves in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The league had planned to move its on-campus basketball tournaments for men and women to Charlotte's Bojangles Coliseum for the 2020-21 season. But that move will be delayed until 2022, Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander announced this week.
"We were very excited to come to Charlotte and to Bojangles Coliseum and have a neutral site championship," Kallander said. "We just found that to be responsible, for this year we needed to go back on campus and put off coming to Charlotte until 2022."
That decision was one of several made by the league's executive committee in response to the pandemic, which has shut down college sports since mid-March, including the lucrative NCAA men's basketball tournament. The Big South includes state schools Charleston Southern, Winthrop, Presbyterian and South Carolina Upstate.
On March 26, the NCAA announced it would cut its annual distribution to Division I conferences to $225 million. That’s just 37.5 percent of its typical $600 million that was set to be distributed to those institutions at the end of the 2019-20 academic year.
"It's not been an easy time," Kallander said. "It's not been an easy process. But it's a time when we need to think a little bit differently.
"Everybody understands we need to think a little differently right now, we need to approach things a little differently. But one thing is consistent and that is trying to minimize any impact of our actions on our student-athletes. We haven't been able to do that entirely. There's been some difficult decisions to make. But no question about it, that's certainly something we want to protect as much as we can."
Kallander said the Big South also will relax its established minimum standards in basketball scheduling, staff and operations budgets for one year. Those standards include a limit of two games against non-Division I opponent, and a limit of four "guarantee" games against bigger programs.
"In our strategic plan, we prioritize basketball," he said. "We have aggressive minimum standards in scheduling, scholarships, staffing and budgets. We've taken the action, for this coming year only, to relax some of those standards, to give more flexibility to our institutions to be able to accommodate their needs. It's the right thing to do, but it's just for the coming year."
Other measures the Big South will take:
• Limiting championship fields in seven sports — men's and women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's tennis, softball and baseball — to just the top four teams in 2020-21.
• Soccer, volleyball, lacrosse and softball tournaments will be held on-campus. The baseball tournament will remain at SEGRA Stadium in Fayetteville, N.C.
• Women's and men's golf championships will be shortened by one day each in 2021. Outdoor track and field championships will remain a three-day event, but will move from May to mid-April, when classes are still in session.
• Football and basketball media days, as well as most planned conference meetings, will be held virtually.
"Most of our team championships will be going to final four formats," Kallander said. "Our individual sports championships will experience some change as well, so everybody will be facing that to some extent."