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No fall sports at Centre College, no winter sports before Jan. 1

Carter Baughman made a smooth transition to college basketball as a freshman but won’t be playing any games this year until at least Jan. 1 due to COVID-19. (Centre College Athletics Photo)

DANVILLE – The Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Presidents’ Council – which includes Centre’s Dr. Milton Moreland – voted this week to suspend all athletic competitions until at least January 1, 2021.

In conjunction with the SAA announcement, Centre will also not be participating in any non-conference competition this fall.

Moreland released the College’s plan for returning to campus this fall on Wednesday, which includes policies limiting college travel as well as visitors to campus. Considering measures to keep Centre students, faculty and staff as safe as possible, the decision was made that athletics competition cannot take place this fall. Centre continues to work with local, regional, and national health professions on a daily basis, as well as all campus offices, to develop our health and safety plans for the coming semester.

“This regrettable action comes after months of discussions by our member institutions on how we might responsibly and safely implement the resocialization of intercollegiate sport on our campuses,” Moreland said. “With the data we have in hand at this time, the conclusion reached by our presidents is that it is in the best interest of our student-athletes to push our fall competitions to the spring.”

The affected fall sports include football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, field hockey, volleyball, cheerleading, and men’s and women’s cross country. Winter sports of swimming and diving, women’s basketball and men’s basketball will not compete against outside competition prior to January 1. Spring sports that compete over fall and spring, such as golf and tennis, will also wait until January 1 for outside competition.

Brad Fields ’98, Director of Athletics and Recreation: “As I said in a recent email to our student-athletes, we miss each of them, terribly. The joy that is found in my life’s work, and that of our dedicated coaches and staff, is them. We are fortunate to be able to use sport to speak into the lives of the young people that come our way, to teach and mentor, and to learn together. Our current crisis stripped away our in-person opportunities starting on March 12 and continuing to this day. We eagerly await the day when they return to campus.

“We remain fully committed to finding every possible way to provide meaningful opportunities for our student-athletes while ensuring careful attention to their health and safety. The College recognizes their experience as student-athletes as a foundational piece of their Centre education, for 2020-21 and beyond.

“While uncertainty dominates the current day, it will be but for a short while as I remain ever more optimistic of the bright future of Centre College and our athletic programs. We will battle through this adversity and be a closer, stronger team on the other side.”

QUESTIONS

Here are answers to various questions provided by Centre College today:

What sports will be able to compete during the fall semester?
In conjunction with SAA Presidential action, Centre will not be competing in any sports during the 2020 fall semester due to college policies regarding travel and a restriction of visitors on campus. This includes conference as well as non-conference competition.

Will fall and winter sports compete at all in 2020-21?
Currently, there will be no athletic competitions until at least January 1, 2021. We will continue to work with the College administration, the COVID-19 Athletics Task Force, the Southern Athletic Association, and the NCAA to consider possible options for competition for fall/winter sports in the winter and/or spring season.

When will students know if winter and spring sports are happening?
We know that there will not be any athletic competition until at least January 1, 2021. No decisions regarding competition beyond that have been made at this time. We will continue to work with the College administration, the COVID-19 Athletics Task Force, the Southern Athletic Association, and the NCAA to consider options for winter and spring sports.

Will fall and winter season teams be able to compete during the Winter or Spring Terms?
We are investigating opportunities with the NCAA to shift our competitive season for fall sports to the winter/spring terms. There are many factors that will affect the feasibility of doing so, but we are planning for meaningful competitive opportunities for our fall teams during the winter/spring terms.

What impact would only being able to practice or play a limited number of games have on my eligibility with the NCAA?
Under NCAA rules, students will not use a season of eligibility if their team does not compete during the traditional sport season. On July 9, the NCAA issued a blanket waiver providing guidance regarding eligibility concerns for teams who play a limited number of contests, or whose seasons end prematurely. The blanket waiver states that student-athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50% or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NCAA also approved a second blanket waiver which permits student-athletes to receive a two-semester/three-quarter extension of eligibility if the student-athlete is unable to participate in their sport during the 2020-21 academic year due to the impact of COVID-19 or if the student-athlete’s team completed 50% or less of the sport’s maximum contests/dates of competition due to COVID-19. For more information on these blanket waivers, please see the NCAA press release.

What will it be like to participate on a team at Centre as a student-athlete this fall?
We are investigating opportunities with the NCAA to designate the fall season as the non-traditional season for our fall sport teams. If this opportunity is granted, fall season athletes would have the opportunity to have 16 practices over a five-week period during the fall semester. In turn, we would be able to seek competitive opportunities in a traditional season format for our fall teams during Centre term and/or spring term.

We anticipate winter season teams will begin practice on their traditional start dates. Institutional decisions are still being made about whether winter student-athletes will remain on campus following the Thanksgiving holiday.

We anticipate spring season teams will have their non-traditional season in the fall, with 16 practice opportunities over a five-week period.

What does “return to play” or the resocialization of sport look like in the fall?
Our COVID-19 Athletics Task Force is meeting weekly to outline safe and responsible “return to play” guidelines.

Has the NCAA announced any changes to the 2020-21 sports seasons?
There have been no announcements regarding any adjustments to the NCAA championships as of this time.

When will student-athletes arrive on campus now that the fall preseason has been cancelled?
The Centre Student Life Office will communicate arrival dates and times with all students as soon as possible.

Will student-athletes have access to the services and support such as athletic training and strength and conditioning?  
Yes.

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