The NCAA granted a sponsorship waiver for Central Michigan University Thursday, giving the Chippewas’ Division I status a stay of execution following the department’s cut of men’s indoor and outdoor track and field programs. Under NCAA bylaw 20.9.6, all Division I programs are required to maintain at least six men’s or mixed programs. The cut of the indoor and outdoor track and field programs would have brought the Chippewas’ total from seven to five.
This is not a permanent solution. Central Michigan has until the end of the 2021-2022 academic year to bring its program up to Division I compliance, or the Chippewas will be liable for sanction by the NCAA that could include mandatory relegation.
Central Michigan has been one of at least 12 schools at the Division I level to cut as many as 20 programs in the wake of austerity measures related the COVID-19 pandemic, though it should be noted that Bowling Green’s baseball program themselves got a stay of execution after it was announced the program would be cut in mid May. Recently, Brown announced the demotion from varsity status to club status of a number of programs.
In any event, it appears that the NCAA is at least willing to work with some programs who are experiencing problems because of austerity measures related to COVID-19 budget shortfalls. Whether the body will be willing to work with programs who don’t meet sponsorship standards in the event contests are cancelled remains to be seen.