Colonial Athletic Association football became the latest domino to tumble in college football, announcing on Friday it will not have a conference schedule this fall because of concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic. The 12 members of the conference, however, are allowed to pursue independent schedules.
The latter scenario is different from previous announcements made by the Ivy and Patriot leagues and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, where none of their members will have a fall sports season. Hampton, a Big South Conference member, also announced earlier this week it will not have fall competition.
The FCS — the lower half of Division I — has 13 conference and 127 member programs. The CAA is considered one of the three top conferences with the Big Sky and Missouri Valley, totaling 11 national championship game appearances between six different programs since 2003.
The James Madison Dukes have captured three of the past four CAA titles and advanced to the national championship game three times in that span, winning the 2016 crown. Even without a CAA schedule, the Dukes’ athletic program announced it will explore its own schedule as long as the NCAA holds a postseason and medical guidance allows for safe competition.
Most CAA members do not consider that opportunity as being viable, and some immediately announced full suspension of fall competition, instead pinning hopes on having a potential spring season.
Said CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio: “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”
This past Tuesday, the CAA called off next week’s virtual media day — an ominous sign, in retrospect. With the conference schedule nixed on Friday, it could be viewed as a potential tipping point against any form of a 2020 FCS season. The CAA was one of the bigger dominoes, and more could fall in the coming weeks.