OUA announces approved structures for 2021-22 season

Haroun Mohamed (23) of the Laurentian Voyageurs handles the ball while Julius Laurinavicius (5) of the Western Mustangs defends during the Voyageurs pre-season tournament, hosted at Laurentian's Ben Avery Gym, on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Ben Leeson/The Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network

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Following the recent announcement from Ontario University Athletics outlining the board of directors’ approval of 2021-22 league-based sport plans, the organization brought its plans for the coming season into clearer focus Wednesday.

In addition to these league-based formats, the OUA is also announced updates regarding G2 and G3 open championships, as recently approved by the board.

“The approved league and championship formats in place for the 2021-22 season have been developed with key principles that keep the health and safety of all OUA participants at the forefront,” the OUA said in a release. “Included among these scheduling principles are a reduction in scheduled league competition, a greater emphasis on regional competition, game caps on exhibition play, and training camp alterations to align with semester start dates.

“Additionally, the OUA continues to recommend that student-athletes, coaches, and all OUA stakeholders receive their vaccines when able to do so to assist in creating a safe return to competition this season.”

Key takeaways from the 2021-22 league-based structures are:

– Football is to feature a reduced regular-season schedule, going from eight games to a six-game slate, amidst a transition to a two-division setup (East, West) with partial interlock among divisions.

– Basketball is to transition from three divisions (East, West, Central) to two (East, West), with each consisting of nine teams. A reduced 16-game schedule will see each team play their divisional rivals twice during the regular season.

– Both women’s and men’s hockey are to feature a 20-game regular-season schedule for the 2021-22 campaign, with the former being broken down into two divisions (East, West) and the latter temporarily transitioning to four (Far East, East, West, Far West).

– A third division is to be added for the 2021-22 soccer season, as the sport’s structure temporarily switches to an East, Central, and West Division. The schedule will also be reduced to 10 games.

– Volleyball is to maintain a two-division setup (East, West), with teams set to compete in a reduced 14-game regular season schedule.

– The format for women’s rugby is to remain unchanged, maintaining the standard split between the Shiels and Russell Divisions, respectively, while competing in a four-game regular season. On the men’s side, the division breakdown is the same (East, West); however, the regular season schedule sees a reduction from six games to four games, all being played within each team’s respective division.

– Chief among the changes to the field hockey slate is to be a new eight-team makeup, which will be broken down into two divisions (East, West) for the 2021-22 campaign, with each team playing eight regular season games.

Among the key considerations for the 2021-22 open championship structures are:

– Regional qualifiers are to take place across several G2/G3 sports (cross-country, wrestling, baseball, curling, golf, lacrosse, tennis, water polo) ahead of championships, with the number of teams and student-athletes advancing to championships dependent on the respective sport. Such championships are to then take place as single-day events whenever possible.

– Championship structures will remain status quo for several G2/G3 sports, including rowing, swimming, track and field, badminton, fencing, figure skating, Nordic skiing, and squash, pending further evaluation in the fall.

– Rowing championships will transition from a two-day event to a one-day event.

– Where applicable, bronze-medal games will be played should teams already be at the championship and the game does not extend the length or schedule of the championship.

All structures remain subject to change based on regional health guidelines, as well as provincial sport organization return-to-play guidelines, to best maintain the health and safety of all OUA participants in the conference’s return to competition.

The OUA said it will provide further details on specific sport schedules as the province of Ontario continues to progress through the three-step reopening plan.