The University’s long wait for the return of sports will continue until after the leaves have fallen off the trees and the brisk chill of fall has left the air. On Aug. 13, the Big East Conference announced that all fall sports will be postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision to not hold fall sports competition was not made lightly,” said Chair of the Big East Board of Directors and Villanova University President, Reverend Peter M. Donohue, OSA, Ph.D. in a press release. “Athletics play an integral role in the student, alumni and fan experience at each of our institutions, and we were all hoping to allow the fall seasons to move forward. However, given the guidance of the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, this decision, while disappointing, was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff in mind. The well-being of our community members are, and will continue to be, our priority and focus.”
The sports affected by this decision include: men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and field hockey. There are also non-traditional sports teams that will be unable to play. These include: baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s tennis.
The sports at St. John’s University affected are women’s and men’s soccer, volleyball and cross country.
“St. John’s fully supports the actions taken by the BIG EAST Presidents this afternoon and recognizes that the decision to cancel competition this fall was difficult and challenging,” said St. John’s Director of Athletics Mike Cragg in a statement via Twitter.
Ackerman also shared the Conference’s deep disappointment in postponing the “high-level competition and experiences” that the fall sports receive. She continued to inform the public that the Big East’s plans for men’s and women’s basketball and other sports are unaffected.
Earlier in the summer, the Big East made the decision to reduce air travel and divide the fall sports teams into leagues. These leagues included East, Midwest, North and South Divisions. Just a couple of weeks following that decision, the Conference took another step to uninclude any non-conference teams in their fall 2020 play. As of this week, the final decision has been to postpone matchups for fall sports all together.
Although no games will be held, the Big East is allowing some team activities. Student-athletes may participate in practices, strength and conditioning sessions and team meetings. The Big East recognized that beyond their allowance of those activities, the teams still must adhere to the safety guidelines and policies of their individual universities as well as the NCAA.
The teams affected by this decision may have the opportunity to continue their hard work in the Big East in the spring of 2021. The Conference said that it will oversee possible options to make that happen for those student-athletes who have lost their fall season.
“I have no doubt that whenever competition resumes our student-athletes will be prepared to reach even greater heights and continue to represent our University at the highest level,” Cragg said.