CWU_Gonzaga

Central Washington University’s head volleyball coach Mario Andaya speaks to his players in a huddle during an exhibition match against Gonzaga University last season in Spokane.

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As the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association suspended fall athletics after the 23 universities of the California State University school system decided it was moving instruction online to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it’s concerning of what the future holds for collegiate athletics.

But that decree alone affects both Central Washington University women’s soccer and volleyball for non-league games. And those matchups are pivotal for strength of schedule.

CWU volleyball was slated to host the Division II West Region crossover and face the 2019 national champions Cal State San Bernardino and San Francisco State. CWU would later play Cal State East Bay as well.

“I think it’s initially scary,” CWU volleyball coach Mario Andaya said of when the CCAA shut down fall athletics. “They obviously had to make some decisions and their school system wasn’t ready to go face to face. We’re kind of in the same boat where we’re not open yet, so it’s scary if we follow suit. Overall, it’s very disappointing because they’re our competition.”

Home games versus Cal State San Marcos, Cal State East Bay and Sonoma State were on the schedule for CWU soccer.

“I think it was a little abrupt,” CWU soccer coach Michael Farrand said. “My understanding is the respective (athletic directors) of all the schools had no idea that it was coming down. For them, I think it’s even harder for them to keep their kids motivated and keep their kids together when they’re going to continue for six months of basically remote learning activities.”

Both CWU programs are seeking games to fill, but according to Andaya and Farrand, there’s a current proposal the NCAA is reviewing for Division II to reduce the number of games in the fall for volleyball and soccer to limit travel and cut costs. A decision should be made next week as the NCAA presidents council convene on Tuesday.

REDUCTIONS

Instead of 26 games for volleyball for 2020, Andaya said it could be reduced to 20 games, and 18 are already Great Northwest Athletic Conference play. That leaves two non-leaguers.

“We don’t know who can travel to play in those two dates,” he said. “We don’t know budget-wise what we’re going to be able to do or other schools budgets if they’re going to travel up here. It’s really up in the air.”

But Andaya said he’s been in contact with a few Division I schools for an exhibition or scrimmage to fill those dates.

“We’re looking at a bunch of contingency plans right now,” he said.

It surely would be a difficult decision if the GNAC were to shutter fall athletics as its made up of five states and Canada. The CCAA is primarily made up of California schools and of the 13 teams, six are part of the Cal State school system.

Every GNAC school and state is on a different timeline with the pandemic.

“That’s where it gets complicated,” Andaya said.

Farrand said he’s also been in contact with Division I schools for exhibitions or scrimmages before GNAC play.

Farrand believes losing those three CCAA schools won’t necessarily hurt CWU’s strength of schedule.

“Because everybody won’t have the CCAA, it’s a nulled kind of thing,” he said. “Since a number of schools are playing a CCAA school, there’s no comparison.”

CWU soccer is still set to travel to Colorado to face Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Colorado Colorado Springs, both potent competition.

“They are always regional ranked teams, too,” Farrand said. “So we have two great non-conference games instead of having five right now.”

Are both coaches optimistic for a fall 2020 season? Their response was alike.

“I think you have to be optimistic,” Farland said. “There’s enough pessimism and Debbie downers going around, so we’re going to be optimistic about what’s ahead and we’re going to prepare for what’s ahead.”

Said Andaya: “I think I have to be so I can prepare. If there’s not then that’s something that’s really out of our control. And if there is, then that’s the only thing we have in our control and we got to prepare. I’m trying to be optimistic, for sure.”

Luke Olson: lolson@kvnews.com; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb

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