Due to action by the NCAA Board of Governors late last week, Central College is joining other American Rivers Conference schools in postponing competition for four fall season athletics teams.
Football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball seasons are being postponed to the 2020-21 spring semester. Competition in men’s and women’s cross country, women’s golf and women’s tennis will proceed as announced July 28. League schedules are still being revised and will be released soon.
The men’s golf and men’s tennis squads, which have fall competition as part of their nontraditional seasons, will proceed as planned.
The nine-team league announced its decision Tuesday, Aug. 11.
“It was our hope that we could safely continue to provide the kind of participant-oriented competitive athletics opportunities that are a vital part of Central students’ educational experience and were taking extraordinary measures to make that possible while mitigating the COVID-19 health risks,” President Mark Putnam says. “But what were initially provided last month as return-to-play guidelines by the NCAA were changed to requirements last week. We support taking every possible precaution to ensure the health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff, but after carefully reviewing these new requirements, it’s become clear that they are not only logistically challenging but cost-prohibitive and we must adjust our plans accordingly.”
According to the NCAA Action Plan, there are significantly more complex return-to-play requirements for the four postponed sports than the others. The NCAA’s “Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition” document outlines details.
Athletics director Eric Van Kley says spring semester options for the postponed sports are being reviewed. That could include spring competition events as well as practice, small-group training, skill development, strength and conditioning development and leadership opportunities.
“It’s too early to know what that might look like,” he says. “But our goal is to provide a meaningful experience for each student-athlete. We’re carefully evaluating every option to provide the best possible opportunities. We will continue to rely on the input and collective wisdom of the medical experts on our campus COVID-19 Athletics Protocol Task Force and state and local authorities.”
Putnam and Van Kley remain enthused about Central’s 2020-21 athletics campaigns.
“I am confident that our teams will respond as Dutch teams have always responded to challenges in the past, with a positive spirit and a determination to overcome any and all obstacles on the road to success,” Putnam says. “I’m as excited as ever about our teams’ potential for the year ahead.”
Central remains committed to in-person learning this fall, Putnam adds. Updates and resources from the college on plans for returning to campus for the 2020-21 academic year can be accessed at central.edu/health. Fall semester classes begin Aug. 26.
Student-athletes will retain a season of eligibility should they choose to extend their time at Central, Van Kley notes.
Central’s winter athletics seasons are not impacted by Tuesday’s action but decisions have not yet been made regarding practice start dates. For additional information from the American Rivers Conference, see today’s announcement.