NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State’s fall sports schedules are moving to the spring of 2021.
The Southland Conference announced Thursday the league will postpone fall sports conference competitions in football, volleyball, soccer and cross country with the intent of playing in the spring semester.
The league’s fall sports teams are allowed to keep contracted non-conference games, if they so choose, and can schedule additional games, as well. NSU has chosen not to participate in any fall athletic competitions.
The decision was reached Wednesday by the Conference’s presidential Board of Directors, in consultation with campus athletic directors, in full consideration of the health, safety and well-being of the league’s student-athletes, coaches, administrators, support personnel and fans on the league’s 13 campuses. Southland members have been monitoring national, regional and local developments related to the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic since the cancelation of spring sports in mid-March.
“All of us at Northwestern and other schools in the Southland Conference regret the negative impact on our students, personnel, alumni, friends and fans of suspending competition in athletics for the fall semester,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “Our plans for resuming intercollegiate sports competition that is so deeply ingrained in the university and its image are already under way.
“Most conferences and universities in the nation are postponing athletic competition in the fall based on guidance from medical agencies and authorities across the nation. We feel it is in the best interests of our university, students and community that we also suspend intercollegiate sports, as much as we regret it.”
Added Director of Athletics Greg Burke: “Our athletic program has been preparing to play – and wanted to play – since the start of voluntary workouts began in June. Most recently and in compliance with an NCAA Board of Governors directive, a COVID-19 PCR testing option was secured and utilized for student-athlete testing while other protocols continued to be followed by our sports medicine staff.”
“This is not the outcome for which we were hoping. It, however, reflects the continuing volatility of a pandemic which has had a grip on our nation, including the world of college athletics, for nearly five months,” added Burke, who noted that nearly 90 percent of NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football programs have already canceled their competitive season.
NSU was scheduled to open its 2020 football season with a September 3 home game versus conference opponent Incarnate Word while other fall sports also were set to start their season in early September.
The Southland joins a growing list of all but two FCS conferences that have altered, canceled or postponed all or portions of fall competitions, including the Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Ivy League, the Mid-Eastern Athletic, the Missouri Valley Football League, Northeast, Patriot League, the Pioneer Football League and the Southwestern Athletic conferences.
The Southland’s fall sports offerings include football, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country and volleyball.
The cancellation of fall sports follows similar action taken in the spring that resulted in not holding the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as the Indoor Track and Field Championships. All spring sports activities were also cancelled.
Said Burke: “This, again, is most disappointing for our student-athletes, who are dedicated to representing NSU both in the classroom and on the field of competition. The same sentiment applies to our coaches and staff, who invest in immeasurable amount of time year-round in preparing for each season. Finally, I know how much our fans, alumni, former athletes, parents and campus community look forward supporting our teams and this leaves yet another void for them.”
Burke indicated NSU teams will continue to remain engaged in athletic-related activities within the department’s “inner bubble” as allowed by NCAA rules. Ongoing testing and daily monitoring will also be a part of the health and safety protocol. The Southland Conference also is in the planning stages to conduct regular season championships in all four sports in the spring of 2021 with potential plans for NCAA postseason competition also a possibility.
The Northwestern State Athletics Mental Health Committee also has been and will continue to be involved and provide guidance regarding the impact this decision can have on NSU student-athletes.