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Even with football’s return, other MAC fall sports wait until spring

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 7:41 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Stroh Center is quiet Tuesday afternoon. It is BGSU’s home to volleyball, the school’s lone indoor fall sport.

The Falcons are able to practice inside this fall.

“It’s wonderful we finally have some sense of normalcy,” Falcons head volleyball coach Danijela Tomic said. “After being so long away, our players left BG in March, then when we got back in August in the gym, it was like Christmas came.”

Volleyball’s season will start about a month after Christmas -- which is about three months after football’s season is set to begin.

“We understand that football is in a different category when it comes to media contracts,” Tomic said. “I was happy. I actually texted coach (Scot) Loeffler and (when I) saw the news and I said, ‘I am so happy for you and student-athletes that they are able to do that.'”

It is a similar story up I-75 at the University of Toledo when it comes to following the Mid-American Conference postponing the fall sports season -- for all but football -- to the spring.

“It was quite easy to be very honest,” Rockets Athletic Director Mike O’Brien said. “The NCAA moved the championships of those other fall sports to the spring. It was a given that obviously those other sports were going to move to the spring season as well.”

The NCAA does not operate the football championship game or the playoff for Division I schools such as those in the MAC of the Big Ten Conference.

While soccer and other fall sports sit in football’s shadow this fall in the Midwest, does a student-athlete have a legal case to force a conference return his or her sport to competition?

“I think that would be much more of a stretch,” University of Toledo College of Law Senior Associate Dean and professor Geoffrey Rapp said. “Title IX, because of its specific focus on the provision of participation opportunities on accommodating student interest and avoiding discrimination on the basis of sex gives a powerful claim for female student-athletes who are differentially impacted by scheduling decisions. For a male student-athlete, Title IX wouldn’t be a natural thing to think of in connection with scheduling decisions.”

Back in Bowling Green, Danijela looks forward to the calendar changing to 2021.

“I know a couple of MAC schools -- volleyball programs -- who have not been in the gym since March,” Tomic said. “So there was no way that we could have a season this fall. I’m happy for football. I’m happy for those teams and student-athletes and coaches. I’m also glad that we have more time to prepare for the season in the spring.”

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