DSU set for really busy time

DOVER — It’s been about six months since any of the state’s colleges have competed in sports.

That streak won’t end this fall, either.

But Delaware State athletic director Dr. Scott Gines said once the Hornets are cleared to start playing again, there’s likely to be a deluge of games.

Scott Gines

“If you’re a fanatic for Delaware State athletics,” he said, “the odds are you can come any day of the week and you’re going to find something being played on campus for about 120 days.”

By Gines’ estimation, DelState could have about 440 student-athletes taking part in 250 competitions in 16 sports over a span of 120 days running from January to May.

“We’ll be very, very busy,” he said.

Of course, that hectic slate is contingent upon the coronavirus pandemic being under control enough to allow the return of college athletics across the country.

The pandemic is the reason for the potential unprecedented avalanche of college games next winter and spring. Most schools, are planning to have their fall programs compete in late winter and spring.

And they would be competing alongside the regular spring-sport programs.

If all that sounds like it would take a lot of planning to pull off, well, it would.

That’s what Gines and his staff, along with almost every other college program in the country, are working toward right now.

At a relatively small NCAA Division I school like DSU, the situation could put a lot of stress on its facilities.

“Rather than obstacles, I’d call them ‘stress points,’ ” Gines said about some of the impending issues. “Our facilities are, in many cases, shared — particularly Alumni Stadium and Memorial Gym.

“Obviously when we have three indoor court sports — men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball — going full-tilt at the same time, it makes for a lot of activity. We also use that facility for other things. And then at Alumni Stadium, we might be prone to think about that as football. But that’s also women’s lacrosse, that’s also women’s soccer, that’s also men’s and women’s track & field.”

A few weeks ago, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference announced its scheduling plans for not only ‘fall’ sports in the spring but also for the winter ones.

Football is tentatively scheduled to start on Feb. 27 and go through April 24. There will be a MEAC title game on May 1.

DelState is planning to play six football games, facing Howard, Morgan State and Norfolk State twice each, home and away.

That schedule could be altered depending on what the NCAA decides about having a Division I FCS national football tournament in the spring.

Volleyball is scheduled to be played in January and February with a MEAC championship being held March 13-14 in Norfolk, Virginia.

But the conference also announced that it expects to limit winter and spring sports to regional schedules — with trips that won’t require hotel stays or plane trips.

Gines said DelState has been trying to cut back on “guarantee games” — contests against usually bigger programs for payouts — anyway.

He said between football and men’s and women’s basketball, the Hornets were slated to play only four guarantee games this school year. In past years, he said there have been as many as 20.

Not having those contracts will help if DSU is playing more condensed schedules.

“It’s a little bit old school,” Gines said about less traveling. “It’s kind of like day trips with a small radius. But our goal was to get in the competition. Our goal is to have a competitive student-athlete experience.”

The plan right now is for the MEAC basketball season to begin on Dec. 1. with the Hornets playing in a division with UMES, Coppin State, Morgan State, Howard and Norfolk. The league tourney will probably include the top four teams in each division.

One of Gines’ goals has been to increase the number of student-athletes at DelState. That’s why the school has gone from an average of about 325 student-athletes to a record-high 447.

DSU, which is testing it’s entire campus population continually for COVID-19, is planning to test its student-athletes twice a week. On-campus workouts of eight hours a week are slated to begin on Tuesday.

Gines said his staff really wants to communicate and reinforce the protocols and guidelines of being an athlete in the age of COVID-19.

The hope is that when the Hornets finally get around to playing all those games in the winter and spring, everyone will be ready.

And Gines and his staff will be able to coordinate getting them all on their fields and courts once the schedules are finalized.

“It’s kind of like a fire extinguisher right now,” he said about all the planning. “Ours has been checked — it’s full. We’re ready to break glass.

“We’ve done our homework. I think we’re prepared for what those final plans are for fall sports being moved to spring and those championships.”