Centennial First NCAA Conference to Call Off Fall Football

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The pace of fall sports canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic has started to pick up.

After several weeks of teams canceling games and seasons, the Division III Centennial Conference became the first NCAA conference to opt out of fall football for the 2020-21 school year.

The Centennial, which has 11 fulltime member schools located in Pennsylvania and Maryland, announced their decision Tuesday. The conference kept open the possibility of playing some sports later this fall or moving them to spring.

“Given health and other related concerns, the Centennial Conference Presidents Council has decided to suspend any inter-collegiate competition for sports scheduled for the fall semester,” the statement reads. “The presidents will reevaluate this decision by the end of September, based on work to be done by the Conference to assess sports-specific activities and the experiences on the schools’ campuses. The presidents have determined football will not be played in the fall. The Conference will also explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, including football, to the spring.”

The Centennial Conference traditionally has seven fall sports — field hockey, football, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball. According to Johns Hopkins University associate athletic director Ernie Larossa, football is the only sport that definitely won't be played this fall. The university presidents will make a determination on the remaining sports in September.

Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Penn., went unbeaten to win the conference football title last season. The 10-team football conference also includes fulltime Centennial members Muhlenberg, Johns Hopkins, Franklin & Marshall, Dickinson, Ursinus, McDaniel and Gettysburg as well as football affiliate schools Susquehanna, Moravian and Juniata.

Fordham University in New York City also announced Tuesday that it’s canceling its first three football games of the 2020-21 season — Aug. 29 against Stony Brook, Sept. 5 against Bryant and Sept. 12 at Hawaii. The Rams, who compete in the Patriot League, are now scheduled to open the season Sept. 26 at Monmouth.

"I'm disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans that we had to cancel the first three games of the season, but the health and wellbeing of our student-athletes is our number one priority," Fordham interim director of athletics Ed Kull said in the release. “When we return to campus we will follow all guidelines and precautions mandated by the NCAA, the Patriot League, and the University to protect all involved in our program and department.”

Related content: Patriot League Protocols Could Lead to Canceled Games

Fordham’s altered schedule comes after last month’s Patriot League Fall 2020 Athletics Plan, which said student-athletes can’t return to campus before other students; non-conference games can’t be held before Sept. 4; teams can’t fly to events; and that non-conference opponents must follow similar health and safety protocols.

Related content: Report: Ivy League Looking into Spring Football Season

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