While the NCAA told us it won’t make an official announcement until August 21, it’s a so-called no-brainer, since well more than the 50 percent of teams needed to conduct an official championship this fall have postponed to the spring.
That includes the Pac-12, which Stanford won last season.
“I think it’s right decision not to try to play,” fourth-year Stanford coach Kevin Hambly said. “We’d have been worried about getting sick the whole year and I don’t think we would have made it, so this is the right decision.”
Since the Pac-12 announced, a handful of leagues have followed, bringing the total of conferences opting out of fall to 22.
Or, as one coach from a league that had already gone to the spring and hoping to have more than 50 percent of the programs come along said, “Now we’re just running up the score.”
On Wednesday, the total of teams postponed to spring grew to 224 with the announcements by the Big Sky, Southern, Southland, WAC, and West Coast conferences.
There are still 112 teams scheduled to play in the fall, including 37 from the Power 5, the ACC, Big 12 and SEC.
Stanford, which is on the quarter system, doesn’t start school until September 14 and doesn’t have formal workouts scheduled until next week. In the past, that’s given fourth-year coach Kevin Hambly the chance to go on the road for the first few weeks of the NCAA season.
Instead, this year, he and the Cardinal — who have won three of the four NCAA titles including the last two years — are living in a hotel near their Palo Alto campus.
“We just got off a Zoom. They all want to stay,” Hambly said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re going to train however we can train, whatever that means. Whatever hours we have. They can work out, they can lift, play some open gyms, all that. But they’re going to stick around.”
As they figure out their next move, here is the breakdown of NCAA teams in/out as of 3 p.m. Eastern Thursday:
American Athletic — 11
ACC — 15
ASUN — 9
Big 12 — 9 Conference USA — 12 left (ODU to spring)
Horizon — 9
Missouri Valley — 10
Ohio Valley — 12
SEC — 13
Southern — 9
Sun Belt — 12
Total — 121
America East — 7
Atlantic 10 — 10
Big East — 11
Big South — 10
Big Sky — 11
Big Ten — 14
Big West — 11
Colonial — 9
Conference USA — 1, the league has not announced, but Old Dominion has gone to the spring
Ivy — 8
Metro Atlantic — 10
MEAC — 11
Mid-American — 12
Mountain West — 11
Northeast — 8
Patriot — 7, Army and Navy have both said they will play this fall, if only against each other
Pac-12 — 12
Summit — 9
Southland — 13
SWAC — 10
West Coast — 10
Total — 215
Hambly said his players were happy to not be in the situation that spring athletes endured this year, getting their seasons cut short.
“They didn’t want to be like what happened to the basketballs, start a season and not have it end,” Hambly said. “We’re happy that we didn’t do that, that we didn’t waste a year.”
Indeed, because while, for example, beach volleyball, baseball, and softball athletes were given the year back, that wasn’t the case with basketball.
“I thought that was interesting and they had that perspective,” Hambly said. “They’re also happy there’s an answer instead of wait-and-see. They’re all here and now they know they’re not playing until January sometime.”
This will be a new-look Stanford whenever it plays because the magnificent core four — VolleyballMag.com national player of the year Kathryn Plummer, Jenna Gray, Audriana Fitzmorris, and Morgan Hentz — were all seniors.
This Cardinal team has just two seniors on the roster, outside Meghan McClure and defensive specialist Kate Formico.
“They’re bummed,” Hambly said. “Let’s say the season gets canceled and we don’t play this year, I don’t know. They both have their futures to look forward to. And based on what happened last spring, less than 30 percent of the (Stanford) seniors came back. Especially at Stanford, when they have all these great jobs lined up for them when they’re done.”
That’s the case for Canadian DS Sidney Wilson, who had a job lined up and chose to take it instead of returning to school.
On the court if it all works out, McClure will likely be one outside hitter with redshirt-freshman Caitlin Baird the other, with sophomore Kendall Kipp at the opposite.
The middles including two returners in junior Holly Campbell and sophomore McKenna Vicini, but they will challenged by highly touted freshman Leilah Smith.
The setter will be sophomore Selina Xu and the libero likely freshman Elena Oglivie.
“We’re really talented,” Hambly said. “Our talent level and our athleticism and is really exceptional, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Hambly said his team can’t be on campus, and since housing is so expensive in Palo Alto, the Cardinal are living in the aforementioned hotel with the football, men’s and women’s soccer teams.
“It’s weird,” Hambly admitted with a laugh. “It’s not quiet. Let’s put it that way.”