Atlantic 10 Conference postpones fall sports, may shift to spring

The Atlantic 10 Conference is postponing its entire fall sports schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced Friday.

Men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country, and volleyball are impacted, while fall schedules for men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s rowing will also be postponed.

In addition, nontraditional competition seasons for baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse are postponed as well.

The conference and its leaders have agreed to a “look-in window” in mid-September, which would allow for a potentially shortened, conference-only schedule if coronavirus risks have been reduced substantially. If those risk levels don’t improve, then all fall sports would shift to spring 2021.

“Any decisions out of that window of time will be dictated by the COVID status and how nationally and regionally we’re fairing as it relates to the pandemic,” Atlantic 10 Conference commissioner Bernadette McGlade said on a video call with reporters. “There would have to be a significant upward trend in all the impacts we’re seeing right now in terms of securing the health and safety of not only our student-athletes but our campus communities as well. It’s a slim opportunity, but we felt like we should keep it on the table.”

The conference already put together a regionalized pod conference schedule for fall sports, which eliminated 25 percent of its games. If they are able to play in the fall, the season would start Oct. 4. If not, they will use the same conference schedule they’ve already made for the spring. McGlade acknowledged there is a chance conference teams won’t be able to compete for fall NCAA championships if those championships remain as scheduled, but league leaders felt they had to look out for the safety of their athletes and coaches first.

Basketball remains unaffected for now, but McGlade added that there’s no consideration of regional pod scheduling for hoops.

Schedules for winter sports, other than swimming and diving fall contests, remain unchanged. League leaders agreed it was too early to make decisions about what to do about the basketball season, which begins in November.

The America East Conference also announced on Friday that all fall sports competition has been postponed through the first semester.

The conference said it will develop a plan for fall sports to compete in the second semester.

“This was not an easy conclusion for our membership to reach but it was made with care and diligence and with health and safety as the highest priority,” America East commissioner Amy Huchthausen said in a statement. “… While several outstanding issues and questions remain, we are hopeful that creative thinking and solutions will emerge in concert with improved measures to reduce the risk associated with COVID-19 as the academic year unfolds.”

The moves are the latest scheduling change as conferences across the country in all divisions respond to the pandemic. The Ivy League and the Patriot League have announced that sports will not be played in the fall.

On the Power 5 level, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have canceled nonconference games for fall sports, including football. The ACC and SEC have both announced they are delaying the start of the fall season for all sports except football through at least Sept. 1.

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