Nicholls

The Southland Conference announced significant changes to its competitive standards on Wednesday as athletics plan to resume in the next school year after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Southland Board of Directors approved the changes at a Wednesday meeting in an effort to deal with the pandemic and the financial restrictions that are expected in the coming year by member schools.

The conference's university presidents, in consultation with their Athletic Directors, agreed to make sweeping changes to postseason, which are expected to be in effect for just one season.

In baseball, women's soccer, softball and volleyball, only four teams will advance to postseason conference tournaments. That is changed from larger numbers in years past.

Also, those events will now be held at the site of the regular season No. 1 seed's campus. In years past, Southland Conference Tournaments were bidded out and were held around the Texas and Louisiana area.

Baseball and softball tournaments will be double-elimination, while others will be single elimination.

Events will still carry the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The league's men's and women's tennis tournaments will also shrink down to four teams, but that event will remain in Beaumont, Texas. The reason for tennis keeping its neutral site is because most schools have one coach who works with both men's and women's teams, so having two, separate tournaments at different venues would have caused problems.

The Board has not made a decision yet regarding the Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. AD's and Conference staff have been asked to continue reviewing qualification and format scenarios for that event, and a final determination will be made later.

For sports without regular-season Conference competition, 2020-21 Conference Championship events will remain as schedule with all eligible teams being able to compete.

This includes the Southland Conference men's and women's cross country meet in Hammond, the Beach Volleyball Conference Championships in Corpus Christi; the Women's Golf Conference Championships in El Dorado, Arkansas; the Men's Golf Conference Championships in McKinney, Texas; the Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham; and the Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Lake Charles.

Entrants into the track and field events will be limited based on regular season qualifying marks.

In all sports, schools will have travel squad limitations in 2020-2021, as well, but those restrictions do not apply to home teams.

The conference is expected to utilize these rules only for 2020-2021.

"With the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the financial restrictions our institutions are expecting in the coming year, the Board of Directors was compelled to take this unusual action," Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett said. "The presidents and athletic directors took great care to ensure that championship opportunities remain in place for our student-athletes, but also implemented a serious plan addressing the fiscal realities facing the membership. We are all planning for this to be a short-term issue with a return to the normal Conference experience as quickly as possible."

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