The NAIA Council of Presidents (COP) voted on Friday to delay the fall national football championship to spring 2021.

The decision comes after a Tuesday decision to move the national championships for cross-country, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball to the spring, as well. Despite the move, it still allows NAIA conferences to compete in the fall and winter, if they choose.

“The decision regarding the football championship required additional attention since the sport often operates outside of the regular conference structure,” said Dr. Arvid Johnson, COP Chair and University of St. Francis President. “The extra time allotted was to ensure that the COP representatives had adequate opportunity to gain feedback from their conference colleagues.”

The decision to move the football championship is more inclusive for all NAIA member institutions, as some face restrictions from local or state mandates.

On July 21, the Great Plains Athletic Conference announced its intentions to proceed with the fall sports season. The GPAC made guidelines where teams aren’t allowed to practice until Aug. 15, and competitions for volleyball, soccer, cross country, tennis, baseball and softball can’t be played before Sept. 5. Football games aren’t allowed until Sept. 12.

Dakota Wesleyan University’s football opener is scheduled for Sept. 12 at Hastings (Neb.).

“Moving the football championship to the spring was the right thing to do for the well-being of our student-athletes,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “The decision also provides additional flexibility for our conferences and institutions to account for regional differences and plan their regular season accordingly.”