The NCAA officially removed the College Cup from UCSB’s athletic calendar on Thursday.
NCAA president Mark Emmert announced that, “We cannot, at this point, have fall championships” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Final Four for men’s soccer, which was previously held at UCSB’s 16,000-seat stadium in 2010 and 2018, was set to make a third return on Dec. 11 and 13.
UCSB athletic director John McCutcheon said he had already notified the NCAA that his university would be incapable of holding the event, especially with the coronavirus protocol that would have been required.
“We’ve had several calls with them leading up to this,” he said. “When our fall season got canceled by our conference, we told them that it would be extremely difficult for us to host.
“We called them again last week and had a conversation in which we said that we just can’t do it.”
Although men’s soccer and other fall sports could still be played next spring, McCutcheon said UCSB still would be hard-pressed to host the College Cup.
“It’s a different situation for us in the spring, depending on what the timing is,” he said. “If all of our fall sports are playing in the spring, our staff would be spread out too thin. I can’t envision handling all that and still hosting the championships.”
He expects the NCAA to make a quick decision about moving fall sports to the spring or simply canceling seasons altogether.
“I think there’s going to be unbelievable pressure put on them to come up with a format soon,” McCutcheon said.
He’s against conducting a season that consists of just a handful of games.
“You can’t ask an athlete to burn a season of eligibility if there’s not a significant season,” he said. “We first have to see what the championship format would be and then what the conference is planning. Given that, we can figure out what we can do to make it a meaningful experience.”
McCutcheon is unsure when UCSB’s student-athletes will be allowed back on campus.
“There are a lot of moving parts to that,” he said. “What do we need to do to comply with the guidelines set by the NCAA, and by the state, and by the county? What are the requirements in regards to access to facilities?
“It’s not an easy process to go through. I foresee a phased-in process in which we don’t bring all 500 athletes back at once.”