North Atlantic Conference still plans to hold winter sports
Opted to wait until January to make a final decision.
WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - The North Atlantic Conference put out a press release tonight announcing they plan to hold winter sports seasons beginning at the end of January.
"The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Presidents' Council offered support for tentative plans to conduct winter sports during the spring semester but opted to wait until January to make a final decision based on the state of the pandemic at that time. The Council also affirmed support for allowing institutional autonomy to conduct athletic activities regardless of the final decision on a conference schedule or championship.
The NAC sponsors four winter sports - men’s and women’s basketball, and new this year, men’s and women’s swimming & diving. Tentative plans to begin conference basketball games on January 29, 2021, remain on hold for now. The conference has several options for adjusting the planned schedule as needed in response to the pandemic. The first NAC swimming & diving event is slated for March 13-14, 2021.
“We are committed to providing student-athletes with an opportunity to play their sport if it is safe for them and our campuses and wider communities to do so,” said Presidents' Council Chair Ray Rice, also the president at UMaine-Presque Isle. “The coronavirus will ultimately determine the fate of winter sports in the NAC, and we are cautiously optimistic that the worrisome trend we are seeing nationally right now will change course in a way that allows for safe athletic competition.”
Presidents will continue to monitor the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and will reconvene in mid-January to determine a course of action. The health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff, and local communities remain a priority.
Presidents also endorsed plans for playing traditionally fall sports on a smaller scale throughout the spring semester, with the understanding that implementing the plans may not be possible, and changing course may be needed. Fall sports in the NAC include men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s golf, and women’s tennis. Men’s golf and women’s tennis are spring NCAA Championship sports, which remain scheduled at this point. The others are fall NCAA Championship sports, and those national tournaments were canceled.
Eligible student-athletes in all sports benefit from a blanket waiver in Division III this year. They will not be charged with a season of participation, regardless of the level of practice or games that do occur throughout the year. Student-athletes also have two extra semesters to take advantage of extended eligibility.
“I want to thank the NAC presidents, vice presidents, and athletic administrators for their thoughtful leadership in such a difficult time,” said Commissioner Marcella Zalot. “They are juggling so many issues on campus. The presidents' decisions today respect the individuality and unique needs of each institution, which is a hallmark of our conference.” "
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