NEW WILMINGTON – The Presidents’ Athletic Conference Presidents’ Council has voted unanimously on the following decisions related to athletic competition in the fall 2020 semester:
To postpone fall 2020 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, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCAA-defined “low contact” fall 2020 sports of women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf will tentatively be permitted to compete this fall with conference competition only, as previously announced, barring additional NCAA or state guidelines/restrictions. The conference will also explore logistical options for holding fall athletic competitions in other “low contact” sports such as men’s and women’s outdoor track & field and men’s tennis, which have typically held their traditional seasons in the spring in past years.
Tentative modified spring varsity game/competition schedules in football, soccer, volleyball and cross country will be developed by the PAC Scheduling Working Group and released in the near future.
In addition, the PAC Presidents’ Council also agreed to not hold any winter sport varsity competitions prior to Jan. 1, 2021.
All decisions were made during the most recent PAC Presidents’ Council virtual meeting held on Thursday.
“We wrestled long and hard before deciding to postpone competition in the high- and medium-contact sports of football, soccer, volleyball and cross country this fall, a difficult disruption for our student-athletes and coaches,” said Dr. Calvin Troup, president of Geneva College and chair of the PAC Presidents’ Council. “That said, we remain hopeful that conditions will permit us to include these sports safely in an expanded PAC athletic schedule this coming spring.”
The decision by the PAC to postpone fall competition until the spring of 2021 was largely driven by the NCAA Sport Science Institute releasing updated health and safety/re-socialization guidelines on July 16 related to COVID-19, which classified football, soccer and volleyball as “high contact” sports. The document recommends that all “high contact” sports should currently have all student-athletes tested on a weekly basis for COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible (e.g. during competitions), including within 72 hours after each football game for all student-athletes, coaches, officials and staff. As a “medium contact” sport, guidelines for cross country include initial testing of all student-athletes followed by maintenance testing bi-weekly throughout the season.
As a result of this decision, PAC member schools will focus on athletic activities for the high and medium contact sports that are consistent with their individual health and safety plans and public health protocols. The conference office will be providing schools with additional compliance guidance related to COVID-19 related waivers approved by the NCAA.
“I cannot stress this point enough: this is a postponement of certain fall sports competitions. 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” said PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko.
“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 January 1 also gives us a greater degree of confidence in both starting and finishing those seasons,” Onderko added.
The PAC will continue to monitor and research options due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health crisis through the remainder of the summer and fall.
The conference will continue to adjust its policies, guidelines and schedules as necessary to maximize the health and safety of our student-athletes and coaches, as well as to provide them with the best athletic experience possible during the remainder of the rapidly evolving public health crisis.