Big East Conference postpones fall sports over COVID concerns

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NEW YORK (WTNH) — Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Big East Conference and its member institutions have announced that fall sports competition will not be conducted in 2020.

The conference will assess alternative options to stage fall sports contests during the spring of 2021.

The decision was made in consultation with the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, an intra-conference medical advisory group that includes administrators, doctors, athletic trainers, student-athletes and national experts in global pandemics and infectious diseases.

“The decision to not hold fall sports competition was not made lightly,” said Chair of the Big East Board of Directors and Villanova University President the Reverend Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. “Athletics play an integral role in the student, alumni and fan experience at each of our institutions, and we were all hoping to allow the fall seasons to move forward. However, given the guidance of the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, this decision, while disappointing, was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff in mind. The well-being of our community members are, and will continue to be, our priority and focus.”

“This very difficult decision came after an exhaustive review by our Presidents and Athletics Directors and followed consideration of NCAA guidance, COVID-19 case counts and trend lines nationally and in Big East communities, and the many unknowns surrounding testing availability, turnaround time and travel restrictions in our 11 locales,” said Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman.  “We take pride in the high-level competition and experiences we provide to our fall sports student-athletes, and we share their deep disappointment that this will not be a normal year.  Our plans for men’s and women’s basketball and other sports are unaffected at this time.”  

“I fully support the difficult but necessary decision made by the BIG EAST presidents to postpone fall sports competition,” UConn Athletic Director David Benedict said.  “Our student-athletes take great pride in competing but, in speaking to many of them in last several days, I know they understand this decision was made with their health and well-being at top of mind.  We remain committed to providing a world-class academic and athletic experience to all our student-athletes while also ensuring a safe and supportive environment on campus.”

This fall was set to be a homecoming to the Big East for all sports at UConn other than football. Football is no longer a Big East sport, so the Huskies were scheduled to play as an independent, until the program decided to cancel its games this season in an announcement made on Aug. 5.

The following details were also released:

  • The sports affected are: men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and field hockey.  Sports that are not sponsored by the BIG EAST Conference are not affected.
  • The fall competition for sports in their non-traditional seasons, which includes baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s tennis, will not be held.
  • During the fall months, Big East student-athletes will be allowed to participate in various team activities, such as practices, strength and conditioning sessions, and team meetings, consistent with individual campus policies, public health guidelines and NCAA and Conference regulations.
  • The Big East COVID Task Force will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions across the country and in Big East communities.  Decisions on winter and spring sports schedules will be made at a later time.

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