Conference USA athletics scheduling changes are on their way with modifications to the upcoming fall sports calendar expected soon.
The extended offseason has been a busy one for Conference USA and its member institutions and conversations among league officials and athletic directors about the structure of future schedules have been at the forefront.
“I don’t think there’s any question that our geographic stretch is a challenge for us,” Rice Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard said. “Pre-pandemic it was something that we made work. I think post-pandemic it’s something that we are really looking closely at.”
Ideas have been tossed around from sources inside and outside of Conference USA. Basketball is expected to end bonus play and could consider moving to a divisional structure to reduce travel. Olympics sports, in particular, are taking a hard look at more regionalized scheduling.
Administrators are also keeping an eye on what’s happening across the nation. The MAC cut postseason tournaments in several sports. Those changes reflect the historical Ivy League model, which traditionally awarded regular-season champions with any relevant postseason bids.
What will those changes look like? Karlgaard said the scope was far-reaching. “All of that is on the table for us to evaluate going forward.”
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This is not smoke and mirrors. Karlgaard has already been in discussion with Athletic Directors at schools in close geographic proximity. “They’re all interested [in regionalized scheduling],” he said. “What form and shape that takes, I think, is going to take longer for us to hash out.”
Long term scheduling adjustments will take time to play out, but changes to the upcoming seasons are imminent. Karlgaard indicated that he expects Conference USA to address fall scheduling as soon as this week, particularly with athletes now allowed to return to campus at several member schools. Rice had not yet set a timetable for the return of their own student-athletes.