The America East athletic conference announced Friday, July 17 that it would postpone fall sports until the spring semester. In their press release, the America East stated a “working group” would be established to determine exactly what a fall competitive season in the spring would look like.
America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen’s statement in the press release expressed how difficult of a decision this was for the America East Conference Board of Presidents to make.
“We have remained optimistic that we could safely conduct a fall sports season,” Huchthausen said. “However, there are several external factors outside of our institutions’ control that will limit and disrupt our ability to deliver our student-athletes an experience they deserve.”
Some of these external factors include the uptick in COVID-19 cases in many states across the U.S. since their reopening and many universities already struggling to handle outbreaks among student athletes who have returned for voluntary practices.
America East Board of Presidents Chair Dr. Havidán Rodríguez of the University at Albany stated that the conference’s decision is in the best interest of all member universities and their students, faculty and staff.
“We have always maintained that the health, safety and well-being of everyone within our conference, especially our student-athletes, is paramount,” Rodríguez said. “Unfortunately, given the current persistence, restrictions and uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear to us now that this difficult, but responsible decision must be made.”
While there will be no conference competitions, the America East’s decision still leaves room for fall students athletes to practice and train with their coaches barring they stay within the NCAA rules for practice hours and other normal regulations.
Following the America East’s announcement, University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Athletic Director Brian Barrio released a statement to all student athletes that expressed his condolences for the cancellation of their regular fall season. However, Barrio explained that the decision was in the best interest of everyone’s health and safety since a fall season would mean increased travel and contact between players, coaches and staff and other actions that go against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations.
“As much as we all desire a return to competition, moving forward and accepting the potential risks associated with competing under these conditions is not consistent with our institutional values and the care we have for the well-being of the entire campus community,” Barrio said.
The America East is just one of many conferences, including the Ivy League, to cancel or postpone the fall season. Other conferences, like the Big 10 and Big East, have decided to only play intraconference matches for the fall.
Many student athletes and conferences are waiting on the NCAA to determine whether fall NCAA championships will take place before determining whether they will host their conference championships or have fall seasons at all. For those going without a fall season, the NCAA has yet to state whether their fall eligibility will be extended.