Student athletes at 18 Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools, including Gannon, Mercyhurst and Edinboro, will not be able to compete in fall sports in 2020 with the conference announcing that all athletic competition has been canceled through December 31st, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference has not ruled out the possibility of shifting its canceled Fall sports to the Spring if officials believe it can be done safely.
Here is the entire release given by the league’s office:
The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference voted on Tuesday, July 14, to suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Conference has already undertaken a full review of its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester and fully intends to do so if a return to competition can be safely executed.
“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” explains PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray. “However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members. We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body. Despite our planning and collective efforts, it has become clear that we are not able to do so.”
“We are committed to giving our student-athletes the chance to compete during this academic year,” adds Geraldine Jones, President of California University of Pennsylvania and newly elected chair of the PSAC Board of Directors. “Many institutions and conferences are facing the same circumstances as we are, and if it is safe to return to competition, we will work with them and the NCAA to provide our teams with a championship experience during the spring semester. We know this is a huge disappointment for our student-athletes who work so very hard in their sport. This decision was not taken lightly and we feel saddened by having to do so.”
The Conference and its member institutions will develop guidelines for all teams to continue individual skill instruction as well as strength and conditioning activities under social distancing protocols by the end of the summer. The determination as to when winter and spring sports may begin workouts and practices will be considered at a later date.
“The circumstances we find ourselves in are unprecedented and thus we are taking unprecedented measures,” adds Murray. “The contraction of COVID-19 and its viral spread are not the types of risks those involved with sports activities face under normal circumstances. Therefore, we cannot expose our student-athletes, coaches and university personnel to those risks. It is a painful step we are taking, but we feel it is the right one.”
All fall and winter sports scheduled to begin before January 1 are impacted by this decision. The Conference will evaluate the necessary schedule changes and will communicate its plans for moving all competitions to the spring semester at a later date.