ODAC, Roanoke College cancel fall sports

Roanoke College Director of Athletics Scott Allison announced last week that fall and winter sport competition will be postponed through the end of the 2020 calendar year. The decision to postpone NCAA athletics until 2021 was made in conjunction with Roanoke College, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), the most recent decisions made by the NCAA, as well as state and local health officials.

This decision impacts men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. These teams will not compete this fall, but the plan is for them to get back to competition once again in 2021. In addition, with no competition until after January 1st, this decision will have an impact on winter sports as well, including men’s and women’s basketball, swimming, indoor track & field and the first year men’s wrestling program. It also will cancel the fall schedules of the golf and tennis teams, which play in both fall and spring.

“The Old Dominion Athletic Conference, out of an abundance of caution, has made the difficult decision to suspend conference competition and championships for fall and winter sports until January 1,'” said Allison. “The safety and welfare of our student-athletes and coaches, as well as our campus community, has been and will continue to be paramount in our decision-making.”

Allison’s announcement comes on the heels of a decision by the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Presidents Council to postpone conference competition and championships for fall and winter sports through the end of the 2020 calendar year.

“The ODAC is one of the nation’s premiere Division III athletic conferences precisely because of our long-standing commitment to the student-athlete experience at all of our institutions,” expressed Dr. David Bushman, President at Bridgewater College and chair of the ODAC Presidents Council. “In light of the broader public health concerns surrounding athletic competitions, the well-being of our campuses and everyone involved in athletic competition made this decision the right one. We have great athletic department leadership across the conference and a superb conference staff and we are all committed to hosting meaningful competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

To help the ODAC and its member schools provide their student-athletes with the most complete athletic experience possible, NCAA Division III is considering a blanket waiver that would provide unprecedented scheduling flexibility. The scheduling change would supply all conference sports with more time for individual and team skill instruction, strength and conditioning, leadership development, and other athletically-related activities during the academic year as health and safety conditions allow.

“The conference’s leadership worked extremely hard to explore ways we might have conducted conference championships and competition in the fall,” explained ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston. “Those conversations involved a number of options, but none of them could change the current impact of the virus and its prevalence in our society. A safe return for students and the sustainability of campus life is a priority for all our members. The combination of fall, winter, and spring sports in the second semester is challenging, but the ODAC is committed to providing all student-athletes with a meaningful conference regular season and championship experience in a safe manner.”

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