The Presidents Council of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) has postponed all NCAA intercollegiate athletics competition through December 31, 2020 amidst continued concerns about COVID-19. The conference is committed to moving NCAA intercollegiate competition to the spring, with various models being currently discussed.
Locally, the decision affects OAC member schools Marietta College and Muskingum University.
While competition will not occur in the fall of 2020, the Conference is planning a robust engagement of student-athletes during the fall semester with conditioning and preparation for competition according to CDC guidelines and NCAA criteria in conjunction with local health guidelines.
“The OAC believes we can continue to provide an excellent experience for our student athletes,” said Tim Gleason, Commissioner of OAC, “while continuing to make the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, families, fans and campus communities our highest priority.”
The fall sports that have intercollegiate competition postponed include cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and volleyball. The winter-season sports of basketball, indoor track and field, swimming and diving, and wrestling will also have intercollegiate competition postponed during the 2020 calendar year, with plans to resume in January 2021.
Here are statements from Marietta College President Dr. William Ruud and Director of Athletics Larry Hiser:
“I know our student-athletes are upset by this decision, but I hope they understand this was about their overall safety and well-being,” said President Ruud, “and we promise to provide opportunities for each of you to gain something positive out of this situation. I am proud of the amazing coaching staff we have at Marietta College, and I know they will do everything in their power to provide the best student-athlete experience as we manage the ever-changing climate surround COVID-19.”
“While this was a difficult decision to make, the health and safety of our student-athletes and the entire Marietta College community has to be our number one priority,” said Hiser. Collegiate athletes are faced with adversity every day on the fields of play and I am confident that our Pioneers will overcome this challenge and be better men, women and student-athletes when this current health crisis is behind us. We remain committed to providing our student-athletes with a meaningful athletic experience in the fall semester as we prepare for a safe return to competition in the spring.”
Here are statements from Muskingum University President Dr. Sue Hasseler and Vice President/Athletic Director Steve Brockelbank:
Muskingum is dedicated to delivering a safe and healthy environment for Muskie student-athletes to stay actively engaged with their teams and coaches throughout the fall semester. Specific plans for each team are being put in place.
“Muskingum is committed to providing excellent athletic opportunities to our student-athletes and teams as they prepare for their seasons in 2021,” said President Hasseler. “We are focused on delivering a solid and fulfilling student-athlete experience on our campus and are confident that our coaches, faculty, and staff will have a positive and meaningful impact on our Muskies this fall.”
“All of our athletic teams will be training and preparing for competition during the fall semester following CDC, NCAA, and local health department guidelines,” said Brockelbank. “We plan to come out of this in great shape, focused, and hungry for competition in January and beyond.”
–Information compiled by Jeff Harrison