The COVID-19 pandemic has put the ability of student-athletes to play their respective sports into serious question this year.
That is especially the case for those attending Stony Brook University, Molloy College and Hofstra University, as all three universities have postponed their fall sports seasons.
New York’s ability to contain coronavirus has improved over the last couple of months, but a case count exceeding 412,000 in the Empire State has schools nervous about the potential impact of reopening campuses at all, let alone bringing back sports this fall.
However, schools are still hoping that they can somehow revive those fall sports seasons in 2021, playing them at the same time as spring sports. That could prove to be quite complicated for universities attempting to do so, though, as it could cause significant scheduling conflicts for all sports playing at the same time.
This is a plan the NCAA is currently working on, with large universities in most states opting to cancel fall sports out of an abundance of caution.
“We understand that all of our 19 teams’ student-athletes are eager to get back on the field and courts, and we will make sure that we provide them this opportunity through practice opportunities and skill instruction in the fall within a safer and more controlled environment as permitted by local, state and institutional guidelines,” Molloy College Athletic Director Susan Cassidy-Like said in a statement. “We are in the process of planning schedules and competitions for our fall and winter teams to begin after Jan. 1, 2021. At this time, spring team starting times remain as planned for the spring of 2021.”
Molly College’s announcement that the Rockville Centre school would postpone fall came on the heels of a decision made by the East Coast Conference, which required all teams participating to do so.
In the case of Stony Brook University, the Seawolves’ postponement was largely decided by the American East’s board of directors, which decided to cancel all fall sports.
“Although it was our hope to compete this fall, circumstances beyond our control have necessitated an alternate path,” Stony Brook University Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron said in a press release. “I support the decision and welcome the clarity that it provides to our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We will work closely with our conferences as they monitor the landscape and conditions surrounding the pandemic, with the health and wellness of our student-athletes being our top priority.”
However, football was still left up to the college as they are part of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), as well as all of Hofstra University’s sports teams.
The CAA decided to allow each individual school to decide the fate of their fall sports, but both appear to have elected to at least postpone them this year.
“We understand today’s announcement is difficult for our Hofstra community and particularly our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Hofstra University Vice President and Athletic Director Rick Cole Jr. said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a multitude of incredible challenges to our athletics program. Each and every decision made during this time has been made with student-athlete, coach, and staff welfare, safety and health at the forefront.
“While our fall sports teams will not be competing, we will continue to plan for the return of our athletic teams to their respective fields of play. Under the guidelines of CDC, local, state and Hofstra University, we will pursue a safe return to sports when the situation dictates.”
In addition to football, these three schools have elected to postpone sports, such as soccer, cross country, field hockey and golf.
It remains to be seen if a return to fall sports will be feasible at all during the school calendar year. But it appears that student-athletes on these teams won’t take to the field until at least the beginning of 2021.