The North Coast Athletic Conference Presidents’ Council and Ohio Wesleyan University have suspended intercollegiate athletic competition for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year, the organizations announced Wednesday.
“With the coronavirus continuing to spread, it was becoming more and more difficult to ensure that Ohio Wesleyan and NCAA intercollegiate athletics could take place in an environment safe for all involved,” said Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “We are heartbroken, but the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, the Ohio Wesleyan campus, and the Delaware community are our highest priority.”
Doug Zipp, Ohio Wesleyan athletics director, echoed Jones’ comments that the decision to cancel the fall season was the right one.
“Our athletics department will continue to work with the OWU Safe Campus Opening Task Force, state and local health agencies, the NCAC, and the NCAA to consider options for competition,” Zipp said. “Guidance on the possibility of conducting fall competition in the spring of 2021, and plans for winter competition are in progress with further guidelines from the NCAA expected soon.
“While we may not be competing this semester, we plan to create an environment for our student-athletes that promotes teamwork, physical fitness, campus competition, education on important issues of the day, and more.
“Our athletics staff will shift its focus and energies toward building an experience that will still provide our student-athletes the physical and mental challenges they desire. We are committed to working with our student-athletes to define a ‘meaningful experience’ and working with each team to execute that experience.”
In lieu of intercollegiate competition, fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball) will conduct practices, workouts, and team activities following current health and safety guidelines with appropriate group sizes and physical distancing.
Sports with split seasons (men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis) will conduct practices, workouts and other team activities.
Winter sports (men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, and wrestling) also will conduct practices, workouts, and team activities during the fall semester as outlined by NCAA official start dates and will not participate in outside competition during the fall semester.
Nontraditional seasons for spring sports (baseball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and softball) will practice as per NCAA guidelines but will not have their date of outside competition.
The NCAA has issued a blanket waiver for the year. A student-athlete will not be considered to have used a season of eligibility if the student-athlete’s sport does not compete in 50 percent or fewer of the sport’s maximum number of contests or dates of competition, or does not compete at all.
“Ohio Wesleyan, along with the NCAC, is working diligently with the NCAA to explore opportunities for our fall sports programs to be able to compete in some way during the spring,” Zipp said. “As more information and guidance becomes available, we will continue to provide updates.
“We realize that nothing can replace the joy of competition; however, our coaches, staff and administrators are committed to creating the best student-athlete experience possible while upholding our commitment to the health and safety of the student-athletes.
“Varsity athletics remains a vitally important part of the Ohio Wesleyan student experience, and this temporary situation will not change that,” Zipp said. “One thing athletics teaches us is working together through adversity, and I know our student-athletes will be better and stronger people because of this.”
Approximately 35 percent of the Ohio Wesleyan student body competes in varsity athletics. Ohio Wesleyan leads the way with 157 team championships during the NCAC’s 36 playing seasons.
OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.