Add the Presidents’ Athletic Conference to the growing list of college leagues that have shifted fall sports seasons to the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PAC, which includes Washington & Jefferson College and Waynesburg University as members, announced Friday afternoon that it has postponed fall athletic competitions in the NCAA-defined “high-contact” and “medium-contact” sports of football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country until the spring 2021 semester. The PAC’s Presidents’ Council voted unanimously in favor of the motion to shut down those sports. It also agreed not to hold winter sports competitions until Jan. 1, 2021, at the earliest.
“We wrestled long and hard before deciding to postpone competition in the high- and medium-contact sports ... a difficult disruption for our student-athletes and coaches,” said Dr. Calvin Troup, president of Geneva College and chairman of the PAC Presidents’ Council.
“We remain hopeful that conditions will permit us to include these sports safely in an expanded PAC athletic schedule this coming spring.”
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, which includes California University, announced last week that it was shifting all fall sports to the spring semester and delaying the start of winter sports until Jan. 1.
The PAC is still planning to have some sports competitions in the fall. Those are in the NCAA-defined “low-contact” sports of women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf. They would be intraconference events only.
The PAC is exploring the logistical options for holding fall competitions in other low-contact sports such as men’s and women’s outdoor track and field and men’s tennis, which have typically held their seasons in the spring.
Schedules in football, soccer, volleyball and cross country will be developed by the PAC and released at a later date.
Earlier this summer, the PAC said it would play only intraconference contests in all fall sports. That was followed by Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve, two schools that are affiliate members of the PAC in football only, announcing they will not play football this fall.
The PAC said its decisions were based on the NCAA Sport Science Institute releasing updated health and safety/resocialization guidelines July 16 related to COVID-19. Those guidelines classified football, soccer and volleyball as “high-contact” sports. The document recommends that high-contact sports should have all student-athletes tested on a weekly basis for COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible, including within 72 hours after each football game for all athletes, coaches, officials and staff.
“I cannot stress this point enough: this is a postponement of certain fall sports competitions,” PAC commissioner Joe Onderko said. “Our Presidents’ Council has indicated every intention of having our schools play football, soccer, volleyball and cross country league schedules to the greatest degree possible during the spring 2021 semester, with a continued highest priority on student-athlete health and safety.
“We remain extremely hopeful that improved, more available and more cost-effective testing procedures for Covid-19, if not an outright vaccine, will make spring competitions in these high-impact sports a much more viable option than in the fall. Moving all winter sports competitions until after Jan. 1 also gives us a greater degree of confidence in both starting and finishing those seasons.”
W&J also announced that it will not offer intramural sports during the fall semester but will increase outdoor fitness and recreational opportunities.