School is back at session in an online setting at two of Santa Barbara’s three colleges, and UCSB will make it a triple play starting Sept. 27.
But sports are still a muddled matter at each of the campuses.
Santa Barbara City College, which started classes on Aug. 24, stepped gingerly into its football cleats for fall conditioning on Monday.
“We’re in a two-week window where we’re under strict guidelines,” director of athletes Rocco Constantino said. “We can’t use equipment and there are other rules, but at least we’re out there doing something.
“On Sept. 14, we will reassess and maybe some restrictions can be lifted.”
Constantino said “about half” of SBCC’s athletic teams have started working out under COVID-19 restrictions mandated by the Santa Barbara County Health Department.
The California Community College Athletic Association moved all of its fall sports competition to the spring semester of 2021. Football can’t begin official practice until Jan. 18.
Craig Moropoulos, who is entering his 14th year as SBCC’s head football coach and his 36th in coaching, is still not sure when the Vaqueros will play their first game.
“They’re limiting it to 70% of a normal season, which is seven games plus a scrimmage,” he said. “But we’re going to try to keep the conference viable.”
Moropoulos separated his athletes into several physical education classes this week “to keep the groups small.”
“There’s a lot of protocol that we have to follow, like wearing masks and staying apart, but it is so good to be out on the field again, and seeing the guys, and talking to the guys,” he said. “I’m really happy and excited to be actually in the stadium and coaching.
“We owe so much to our president (Utpal Goswami) for the support we’ve received, and our department has done a fantastic job of putting a great plan into place. Kathy O’Connor (department chair for health education) has been instrumental in all of this.”
Moropoulos said he got “a decent turnout” on Monday after “between 150-200 recruits” took part in a virtual tour of SBCC’s campus throughout the summer.
“Monday was the first day that we were able to see some of these kids in person,” he said.
Online instruction, however, has complicated the sports situations at both UCSB and Westmont College since many of their athletes are housed on campus. Although both of their conferences moved their fall schedules to 2021, they’re still planning on a November start for basketball.
“We are working out the housing component now,” UCSB director of athletics John McCutcheon said. “Bottom line, I don’t think this will impact the basketball season. The real question on the basketball season is if the NCAA membership decides to delay the start date from Nov. 11, which I think is likely.
“Different models are under consideration and I believe we will get some direction by mid-September.”
The NCAA Division I Council is expected to consider the issue on Sept. 16. Its oversight committees for both men’s and women’s basketball jointly proposed a two-week delay to the start of the season, recommending that it now begin on Nov. 25 — the day before Thanksgiving.
CBS Sports reported that the Pac-12 Conference, which announced on Aug. 11 that it would not allow basketball competition until January, is now proposing a Dec. 4 starting date.
An opening night of Nov. 25, combined with the usual 42 days of preseason practice, would delay the start of UCSB basketball workouts until Oct. 14.
The Gaucho men would lose four home games with the newly proposed starting date: Menlo on Nov. 11, Idaho State on Nov. 15, UC Santa Cruz on Nov. 18, and Pepperdine on Nov. 22.
The trimmed-down schedule would have UCSB open at home against Florida A&M on Nov. 27, Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 29, Portland State on Dec. 3, and Texas Arlington on Dec. 7.
The Gauchos’ first road games would be at Loyola Marymount on Dec. 12 and Saint Mary’s on Dec. 19. They would play one more home contest against Alcorn State on Dec. 22 before opening Big West Conference play at home on New Year’s Eve against UC San Diego, which will be making its league debut.
UCSB has not yet released its women’s basketball schedule.
Westmont began online instruction on Monday but hopes to move students back on campus by the weekend of Sept. 26-27.
The Warriors’ first men’s basketball game was originally set for Nov. 3 at home against West Coast Baptist. Their women’s team hasn’t yet confirmed its non-conference schedule, although it was to play a home doubleheader with the men while opening Golden State Athletic Conference play against Arizona Christian on Nov. 20 and Ottawa, Ariz. on Nov. 21.
“The reality is that all these dates are subject to the limitations of state and county health regulations, which will need to be lifted before we can resume practice, let alone games,” school spokesperson Ron Smith said.