In light of the Middle Atlantic Conference announcing in July that it was suspending all fall college athletics, Stevenson University athletic director Brett Adams says he plans to provide opportunities for student athletes to prepare for future competition safely.
Adams said Stevenson and the rest of the schools in the MAC now have the advantage of time to prepare for a possible return to sports in the spring. He compared the present situation to the way that coaches and players have to react to changes during the game.
“I think it’s got to be a balance and just like we do in athletics,” Adams said on Glenn Clark Radio July 28. “We have to adjust, and coaches adjust on the fly. Programs adjust on the fly to try to meet the opponent that we have in front of us.”
“Now we have a challenging opponent that is challenging our daily routines and practice,” he added.
Despite the setback, Adams is determined to be proactive in his role as athletic director and explore ways to make competing in the spring safe and feasible. Given the time to follow the guidelines of health authorities and watch the progression of treatment options, Adams said he hopes to be able to have players and coaches ready should sports return during the 2020-21 school year.
“Our plan is to try to really develop our student-athletes on each of our campuses in our conference and in our region,” Adams said. “We will see if we can shift the sport to the spring. We don’t know all the answers. We are learning from Major League Baseball; we’re learning from the NBA and what the NFL is going to do. But no one has been through this before.”
Even if the MAC were to try to proceed with fall sports, Adams said that the cost of testing the athletes and staff alone would be financially impossible. Based on rough estimates, Adams said the cost of testing just one student athlete one time would exceed $40. Adams said that in order to participate in college athletics, every athlete would have to be tested 72 hours prior to every sporting event.
“It was a daunting number — and not just for us. It would be our conference counterparts and officials,” he said. “We don’t have the resources that the NFL and major sports have, and we don’t have the bubbling opportunity because students are going to class.”
Stevenson’s well-respected football program was primed for another successful season after the team finished the 2019 season 8-3 overall with a 7-1 conference record. The Mustangs have finished the last six seasons with winning records under head coach Ed Hottle.
Soccer, field hockey, cross country and golf are among the sports that have been postponed as a result of the decision.
Many conferences around the country worked throughout the summer to try to make fall sports work only to have to reverse course in July. Four months ago, many thought that it would be safe to resume normal activities by the time the 2020-21 school year started, but that turned out not to be the case.
As for now, Adams is focused on trying to give fall sports athletes a chance to compete in the spring.
“There are things that we took for granted and our athletes have taken for granted. I think if we can do anything we can to give them an opportunity and experience — especially the seniors –before they graduate, I think they’re going to be appreciative,” Adams said. “I know our coaches are really appreciative. That’s a really worthy endeavor to work toward, and I’m not saying we are going to be able to accomplish it, but it’d be irresponsible for us not to try.”
Adams has been in contact with many of the school’s athletes, and he said that he wants to show them that he and their coaches care about their well-being.
“I think for most athletes who are really dialed in, they want to know you care and that you understand what’s important to them. … Caring also means I care about their safety,” he said. “I think you have to start from there, build that piece and know that the goal is the same for both of us — that we want to get you out there playing safely if we can.”
For more from Adams, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran