ROCK HILL, S.C. - Carson-Newman and the South Atlantic Conference have elected to postpone all intercollegiate athletic competition for fall sports, including football, soccer, volleyball and cross country until the spring 2021 semester.
The SAC President’s Council had previously delayed the start of fall competition until September 26, but due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidents felt it was in the best interest of the student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and the campus communities in general to postpone to the spring of 2021.
“This was a very difficult decision that had to be made today,” Carson-Newman Vice President for Athletics Matt Pope said. “In working with the SAC and our fellow institutions, playing a full schedule this fall is not tenable. We will continue to put student-athlete safety at the forefront of what we do, and make decisions with that in mind first.”
In addition, as a result of the NCAA Board of Governors’ directives issued on August 5, the SAC Presidents Council voted to temporarily suspend all athletically-related activities, including practices, weight training, and voluntary workouts for all sports until September 1. The SAC leadership will continue to seek clarification from the NCAA on these directives; however, this temporary pause in athletically-related activities is necessary due to the ambiguity of the Board of Governors’ directives regarding testing requirements for practice activities and the coverage of medical expenses for COVID-19 related issues for student-athletes.
Activities may be resumed earlier than Sept. 1 if clarification is received from the NCAA on institution’s ability to engage student-athletes in team-related activities as long as federal, state, and local guidelines are followed.
The SAC and Carson-Newman’s leadership do not feel the intent of the NCAA Board of Governors’ decision was to restrict team-related activities beyond contests with outside competition. If all team activities are in fact restricted, the SAC and Carson-Newman’s leadership feel that is antithetical to the mission of the NCAA. The SAC and institutions must be allowed to have that engagement in order to provide a positive structure for academic, athletic, and social success that the student-athletes are accustomed to and desire.
“Much like the decision we had to make back in March to cancel spring sports, this decision to postpone fall sports was very difficult for our administration to make,” SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz said. “But the health and safety of our student-athletes is our number one priority and we feel the decision to postpone our fall seasons is the best for their safety and well-being, and it gives us the best opportunity to play. While this still does not guarantee our fall sports will be able to compete during the 2021 spring season, it gives us the best chance to continue to monitor the situation.”
The SAC and Carson-Newman will continue to monitor the situation surrounding CoVID-19 and will be prepared to make further changes should the public health crisis require in coordination with the NCAA, federal, state, and local developments.