NCAA and COVID
In both men’s and women’s basketball, the Big Sky Conference recently updated its game cancellation policy and chose to reschedule the games that were postponed due to COVID-19 this season. Cancelled games can—and will—also be rescheduled. Teams are only eligible to compete with their opponent if there are at least seven student athletes and one full-time coach available. Any games that cannot be scheduled before league competition—for whatever reason—will be deemed a no-contest.
The Big Sky Conference, like many other conferences in NCAA basketball, want forfeiture as the last resort as it continues to reschedule games. There were a combined 13 cancellations for the men’s and women’s basketball teams last year with the first six of seven women’s games being cancelled due to COVID-19.
The NCAA also recently updated their status on what fully vaccinated means: individuals who have received the Pfizer vaccine within the last five months, Moderna within the last six months or Johnson & Johnson within the last two months. Those who choose not to be vaccinated would have to provide documentation that sufficiently demonstrates their lack of COVID infection in the past 90 days, in addition to being actively monitored throughout the season.
In accordance with the CDC, quarantine after testing positive will only be five days for student athletes. Masking up is expected for five extra days after the isolation period. Fully-vaccinated students who have had close contacts do not need to quarantine, but are recommended to wear a mask during activities.
In what initially looked like a return to regular schedules and college basketball, COVID-19 is here to stay and brings uncertainty to the game. Most games have been postponed, but there were some cancellations at the beginning of this season. Despite the postponements, the NCAA was still able to pull off a successful March Madness tournament on both the men’s and women’s side.
The college football committee has other plans for the playoff season. If one team is unavailable to play their semifinal game due to COVID-19, they would have to forfeit the game and the other team advances to the national championship. If both teams in one semifinal are unable to play, the winner of the semifinal on the other side would be declared national champions. If there are three teams unable to compete, the team that was lucky enough to avoid getting COVID-19 would be declared national champions.
Luckily, both the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl semifinals were successful, with #3 ranked Georgia beating #2 Michigan. #1 Alabama dominating the new underdog #4 Cincinnati—which made history becoming the first power-five team to make the playoffs. If Georgia and/or Alabama are unable to play due to COVID-19, the national championship hosted in Indianapolis will be postponed to no later than Friday, Jan. 14. If one team is not able to be eligible before Jan. 14, then that team will have to forfeit and the other team will be declared national champions. If both teams are not eligible by Jan. 14, then it would become a no-contest and there will be no national champion.
Women’s Basketball 5-5 (0-2)
Four games had to be postponed and then rescheduled to later dates for the Park Block Vikings. Jan. 17 is the first rescheduled date at Eastern Washington, and Jan. 24 is also an away game against Idaho. Viks come back home for Southern Utah on Jan. 31 before heading away to Northern Colorado on Feb. 7. The Viks will be playing 11 games in 24 days giving these student athletes little time to rest, playing a game every two days. The next Vikings home game is Jan. 15 at home against the 4-8 (0-3) Sacramento State, after not playing on the hardwood since Dec. 19.
Men’s Basketball 3-8 (1-2)
The Viks are one of 70 basketball teams in the NCAA that have postponed their games due to the resurgence of COVID-19. There are three rescheduled games for the men’s basketball team as they attempt to break their five-game losing streak. The Viks lost their second conference game to Eastern Washington in a close 58-63 game, without key players Michael Carter, James Jean-Marie and Marlon Ruffin. The Viks have three rescheduled regular season games, including an away game at Southern Utah on Jan. 17, and home games the next two Mondays on Jan. 24 against Idaho and Jan. 31 against Northern Colorado. The next Viking home game is Jan. 15 at 5-6 (1-3) Sacramento State.
Track and Field
The indoor track season started on Dec. 4 at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener where school record-breaking Katie Camarena was the sole Viking in Boston. She had a time of 15:51.49 in the 5k, shaving 42 seconds off the original Portland State record—originally claimed by Kaila Gibson in 2019. The indoor track season continues at the University of Washington indoor preview on Jan. 15. The UW invitational will be held on Jan. 28–29. The Big Sky indoor championships will be held in Bozeman, Montana from Feb. 24–26.
The Big Sky Conference released their conference schedule for 2022, and the Viks start conference play Sept. 23 at Northern Colorado followed by a four-game home stretch including Montana, Sacramento State, Idaho State and Weber State. If the Viks qualify for the Big Sky tournament, they travel to Greely, Colorado from Nov. 2–6 in hopes for an automatic bid to the NCAA championship.
Men’s and Women’s Tennis
The women’s team was picked fourth in the Big Sky preseason poll ahead of the 2022 season, starting on Jan. 16 against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. The men’s team was picked eighth in the poll—after making it to the 2021 Big Sky tournament—preparing to play Boise State on Jan. 14 for their season opener in Eugene. Both Northern Arizona men’s and women’s tennis has been picked to win the Big Sky.
Women’s Lacrosse Club
The Lax Vikings released their schedule for the 2022 season after a cancelled 2020-21 season. They begin the season at home against the University of Idaho Vandals and the Central Washington Wildcats on Jan. 29. The last home game of the season is on Feb. 19 against the crosstown rivals: the University of Portland Pilots. All home games are at PSU Stott Field, right on campus, for fans to support the Viks. The second half of the season will be away in Moscow, Idaho playing schools like the Montana State Bobcats and Pacific Lutheran University Lutes. University of Portland will host the next two games on the schedule as the Viks take on Northwest Nazarene University and the Portland Pilots. The last game of the regular season will be hosted in Spokane, playing the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The last time the Vikings had a season, they were ranked #15 in the nation in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (WCLA) standings.