Add the Atlantic 10 Conference, Horizon League, Colonial Athletic Association, Western Athletic Conference, Commonwealth Coast Conference, North Eastern Athletic Conference and East Coast Conference to the list of conferences that have made significant changes to their fall athletics schedules due to COVID-19.
Each of the aforementioned conferences announced their intentions late last week, with the A10, CCC, ECC and -NEAC suspending all conference competition through the fall semester, while the CAA has canceled football for the fall, the WAC postponed all sports until mid-September and the Horizon League postponed sports until at least Oct. 1.
Most conferences left open the possibility of playing traditional fall sports in the spring of 2021, as well as leaving individual institutions open to pursue their own schedules. The CAA’s Friday announcement included the decision to “permit member institutions the ability to explore the option of pursuing playing an independent football schedule in the Fall of 2020.”
“The institutions of the Colonial Athletic Association recognize that we compete in a Conference made up of ten distinctive institutions that are located in eight states,” the CAA release said. “As one Conference, we share a commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our student-athletes, campuses, and communities. As we each navigate this pandemic, we recognize that each of our ten members must rely on local and state guidance, as well as medical expertise that may result in different decisions and different timelines for each institution. Therefore, we support each other and the unique circumstances of each of our campuses and communities to make decisions that are best for them. We do so as ten institutions aligned as one Conference.”
Elon University and James Madison University, CAA members, are looking into the option of playing an independent football season this fall. Elon has delayed the start of any fall sports until Aug. 29 and is “currently monitoring pandemic conditions while also making plans to compete as an independent in football and seeking opponents to replace canceled conference games. Elon could still compete against some CAA opponents if those schools also choose to compete as independents this fall and can do so safely.”
"As long as the NCAA and the FCS continue to support championship tournaments on their normal schedules, we believe Elon student-athletes should have the right to compete,” Elon director of athletics Dave Blank said. “We are making every effort to participate in all of our fall sports as long as we feel certain we can do so in a manner that prioritizes the health and safety of all. Should the pandemic situation change or the NCAA and/or FCS championships shift, we will re-evaluate our position appropriately for our fall sports.”
Conversely, the University of New Hampshire, a CAA member, said it will not pursue a fall sports schedule, choosing to focus on playing in the spring.
"It is with a very heavy heart that we are announcing the postponement of all fall sport programs due to the COVID pandemic,” UNH director of athletics Marty Scarano said. "For months, we have worked diligently alongside our campus and league partners to establish safe protocols and practices that would protect our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the greater community. As of the last few weeks it has become obvious that the trend line and scientific data indicates the virus is not under control and continues to present a significant risk."
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The ECC and CCC left continued workouts and practices up to local discretion, but competition being postponed until after January 1 means that winter sports will see a delayed start to their seasons.
”Along with many of our colleagues in intercollegiate athletics, after a great deal of consideration and discussion with our presidents and athletic leadership, we find ourselves having to make this very difficult decision of suspending fall 2020 sports competition,” ECC commissioner Dr. Robert Dranoff said. “Challenging times like the COVID-19 Pandemic bring with them challenging decisions and we must focus on protecting the health and welfare of student-athletes and all those who support them on our campuses.
“While there may not be athletic competition in the fall, we will continue our efforts to plan for Winter and Spring sports and support our institutions in providing the best possible experience for all student-athletes.”
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The A10’s decision hasn’t impacted winter sports yet, and also left open the possibility to put fall sports back on the schedule. The A10’s “look-in window” in mid-September will allow “for a potentially truncated competitive schedule amongst conference opponents if the COVID-19 risk has substantially been reduced. The reinstatement of conference competitions following the look-in window would require medical and institutional protocols that would assure the safety of student-athletes, staff and the campus community. If COVID-19 risk levels do not improve, the teams and student-athletes will continue training and practicing while attending classes and prepare for a spring 2021 competitive schedule.”
The WAC Board of Directors has delayed women’s soccer until at least Sept. 10, while volleyball and men’s soccer are currently postponed until Sept. 16 to allow teams to “safely re-acclimate to training and competition following the cancellation of most organized spring and summer conditioning programs.”
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