BOSTON — With the health and safety of its member institutions’ communities, the importance of successful institutional campus reopenings and the overall well‐being of its student‐athletes as its top priorities, the America East Conference Board of Presidents announced July 17 a postponement, not cancellation, of all America East fall sport athletics competition and championships for the duration of the first semester.
Statement from UMBC Director of Athletics Brian Barrio
“We are heartbroken for our student-athletes and coaches, who have been diligently preparing during the current pandemic for a return to competition, and who now face a fall without intercollegiate competition,” said UMBC Athletics Director Brian Barrio. “The emotional and mental impact of that loss is considerable – and our staff will be here to support these members of the Retriever family in any way that we can.
“As difficult as this decision is, we are confident it is the right course of action under the present circumstances. There are a myriad of challenges in providing safe travel, lodging, and competition for our student-athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, our student-athletes would begin to travel and compete, the general student body, faculty, and staff will be engaged in reopening campus for the first time since March. As much as we all desire a return to competition, moving forward and accepting the potential risks associated with competing under these conditions is not consistent with our institutional values and the care we have for the well-being of the entire campus community.”
With this announcement, the conference will develop plans for a competitive structure in the second semester and will identify a working group to begin studying this immediately. Athletics activities and student‐athlete services for fall sports including but not limited to training, practice, strength and conditioning, athletic training and academic support will be permitted at each institution’s discretion in adherence with NCAA rules and local and state health and safety guidelines.
The decision and framework for fall sport operations were unanimously approved by the league’s Board of Presidents.
Further, the conference will continue to monitor the landscape and conditions surrounding the pandemic, locally, regionally and nationally, and make any decisions or announcements at a later date regarding its winter sports, as necessary.
Statement from America East Commissioner, Amy Huchthausen
“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. For the last several months, we have been working extensively with our membership to prepare for the fall sports season, including developing health and safety protocols, revising schedules and creating contingency plans. We have remained optimistic that we could safely conduct a fall sports season, however, there are several external factors outside of our institutions’ control that will limit and disrupt our ability to deliver our student‐athletes an experience they deserve. 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.”
— America East and UMBC press release
Photo Credit: Courtesy of UMBC Athletics