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CIAA basketball and volleyball are COVID-19 casualties

Staff report

SALISBURY — There won’t be a Livingstone College basketball season, not even a belated and condensed one.

Due to growing concerns related to COVID-19, the board of directors for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association voted to cancel the 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball seasons, including the CIAA tournament, always the athletic event of the year for the league.

Basketball seasons for the Livingstone Blue Bears and their fellow league members already had been pushed back to Jan. 9.

A revised schedule was released and there was hope for playing, but now that possibility is gone.

Another COVID-19 casualty was volleyball. The board voted to cancel the women’s volleyball season, which earlier had been pushed back from fall to spring.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to challenge the conference’s ability to see a clear path to move forward collectively, and the impact to health and wellness, community concerns, as well as the economic ramifications are real,” CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said. “I want to commend our board of directors for exemplifying courageous leadership in college sports to ensure the well-being of the CIAA as well as the health and safety of our student-athletes and communities.”

“This was not an easy decision or one that was taken lightly by the CIAA board,” Virginia State University President and Board Chair Dr. Makola Abdullah added. “We all want to have a season, and we want our student-athletes, coaches and staff to have a season. However, the data, which changes almost daily, does not support such a decision. The potential risk outweighs the desire to play.”

In lieu of games being canceled and no in-person events, the CIAA still plans to engage alumni, students, and fans during what is traditionally tournament week, in the last week of February, through a virtual experience. The platform will feature a host of ancillary events — including several that have become cornerstones of tournament week such as CIAA Fan Fest and the CIAA Step Show. More details, including a full schedule of events, interactive fan promotions, and other activations, will be released at a later time.

A decision on spring seasons and championships will be provided later as the conference and its membership continue to monitor the COVID-19 landscape while following current federal, state, local, NCAA, and campus guidelines.

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