MANILA, Philippines -- With universities hit hard by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NCAA has to make adjustments for its 96th season.
According to NCAA Management Committee chairman Peter Cayco of Arellano University, it is now unlikely that Season 96 will be held this year, and moreover, the league may not be able to hold all sporting events.
"Ang earlier directive ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) at saka ng Malacanang, there shall be no sports events until the end of the year," Cayco told ABS-CBN News.
If the government gives the green light for sports to resume in January 2021, then the NCAA student-athletes will need at least three months to regain their conditioning, he added. But they are reluctant to start the season in April 2021, because of the Holy Week.
"So we're looking at the end of May or early June," said Cayco.
"Pero sa totoo lang, 'di ba, hangga't walang go-signal ang Malacañang, hindi ka pwede mag-resume. Parang 'yan ang last priority nilang ibalik eh," he pointed out.
There are also questions as to how many schools can participate in the events, given how badly they have been impacted by the pandemic. Colegio de San Juan de Letran -- the host for Season 96 -- will reportedly downsize its athletic department, and cut several varsity teams.
Cayco said other NCAA schools are doing the same.
"All schools magdo-downsize ng athletic programs," he said.
In response, the Management Committee will propose limiting the events for Season 96 to the Policy Board.
"Ang NCAA, we're looking at, pa-approve namin sa Policy Board na 'yung mandatory events lang muna -- which are basketball, swimming, volleyball and track and field. 'Yan ang mandatory ng NCAA," he said.
"Posibilidad 'yun. Papa-approve pa namin ang aming recommendations," he added.
The NCAA already felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic after they were forced to terminate Season 95 last March 19, following the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. The league did not finish its competitions in volleyball, football, beach volleyball, and athletics, among others.
It is certain that the league and its member-schools will continue to deal with the fallout from the outbreak in the coming months.
"Mabigat ang epekto sa schools, sa athletic program lalo. Kasi 'yung athletic programs, for the schools, that's not their priority. Last priority rin ng school 'yan," Cayco said.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).