Aug. 14 (UPI) -- NCAA President Mark Emmert said college sports championships won't be possible this fall because the majority of schools have had seasons postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The [NCAA] board of governors established if you don't have half of the schools playing a sport, you can't have a legitimate championship," Emmert said Thursday.
"We can't in any Division I NCAA championship sport now -- which is everything other than FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] football that goes on in the fall. Sadly, tragically, that's going to be the case this fall, full stop."
The decision impacts 22 championships, including the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). The fall championship cancellations also impact volleyball, soccer, field hockey, cross country and water polo.
FBS, the top-tier of Division I football, has 129 teams. FCS, the other half of Division I, has 125 teams.
The FBS champion is determined through the College Football Playoff, outside of NCAA sponsorship. That status of the College Football Playoff is unclear, as some major FBS conferences still plan to play fall seasons amid the pandemic.
Fewer than 50 percent of colleges plan to play sports this fall due to the pandemic and the majority of conferences hope to play fall seasons this spring.
The NCAA -- the governing body for college sports -- announced last week that all fall sports championships for Division II and Division III would be canceled and not rescheduled for spring.
"My staff has been working hard on it, and talking to a lot of [conference] commissioners -- all of them, all 32 of them in D-I, and there are ways to do this," Emmert said. "I'm completely confident that we can figure this out.
"If schools and conferences want to move forward, and try and have it and more than half of them want to do it -- and that's surely the indication now -- then let's do it.
"We can use the fall and keep kids healthy, keep them engaged with their coaches and their athletic departments. Focus on their academic success. Work with them and let them practice and stay ready to play, then let's go compete at that time."
Emmert said the NCAA has to give "highest priority" to winter and spring sports, which had their championships canceled in March. Softball, baseball, ice hockey, lacrosse and basketball were among those impacted.
The Division I council on Wednesday recommended to the board of governors that student-athletes who play this fall receive an extra season of eligibility if they participate in 50% or fewer of the games planned.
The NCAA Division I council voted in March to award an extra year of eligibility to spring-sport athletes whose seasons were canceled.