College athletics: SAC fall sports won’t be played prior to 2021

Published 1:49 am Saturday, August 8, 2020

Wayne Hinshaw/for the Salisbury Post …
Catawba head football coach Curtis Walker’s Indians won’t be able to play before 2021. There’s a chance football and other fall sports  will be played in the spring.

South Atlantic Conference press release

ROCK HILL, S.C. ( — The South Atlantic Conference Presidents Council has made the decision to postpone the start of all scheduled competition for the 2020 fall sports season until the spring 2021 semester. This includes men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. The SAC Presidents Council had previously delayed the start of fall sports competition until September 26, but due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidents felt it was in the best interest of the student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans, and, the campus communities in general to postpone to the spring of 2021.

“When we made the decision to delay the start of the fall seasons, we were hopeful the nationwide trends would improve and allow our student-athletes to compete,” said Dr. Maurice Scherrens of Newberry, Chair of the SAC Presidents Council. “However, the pandemic has not improved as we had hoped, and we feel the best decision is to postpone any competition to the spring 2021 semester. This was an extremely difficult decision to make and we did not make it without careful consideration of all parties involved.”

In addition, as a result of the NCAA Board of Governors’ directives issued on August 5, the SAC Presidents Council voted to temporarily suspend all athletically-related activities, including practices, weight training, and voluntary workouts for all sports until September 1. The SAC leadership will continue to seek clarification from the NCAA on these directives; however, this temporary pause in athletically-related activities is necessary due to the ambiguity of the Board of Governors’ directives regarding testing requirements for practice activities and the coverage of medical expenses for COVID-19 related issues for student-athletes. Activities may be resumed earlier than September 1 if clarification is received from the NCAA on institution’s ability to engage student-athletes in team-related activities as long as federal, state, and local guidelines are followed.

The SAC leadership does not feel the intent of the NCAA Board of Governors’ decision was to restrict team-related activities beyond contests with outside competition. If all team activities are in fact restricted, the SAC leadership feels that is antithetical to the mission of the NCAA and the SAC and institutions must be allowed to have that engagement in order to provide a positive structure for academic, athletic, and social success that the student-athletes are accustomed to and desire.

“Much like the decision we had to make back in March to cancel spring sports, this decision to postpone fall sports was very difficult for our administration to make,” SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz stated. “But the health and safety of our student-athletes is our number one priority and we feel the decision to postpone our fall seasons is the best for their safety and well-being, and it gives us the best opportunity to play. While this still does not guarantee our fall sports will be able to compete during the 2021 spring season, it gives us the best chance to continue to monitor the situation.”

The SAC leadership will continue to assess the NCAA, federal, state, and local developments and provide updated revisions as further information is available. A decision on the start of winter sports competition will be made at a later date.

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