Fall and winter sports teams at St. Michael’s College were put on hold Thursday after the Northeast-10 Conference‘s council of presidents voted unanimously to suspend all league competition and championships through the end of the year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a news release said.
The conference hopes to shift fall sports to the spring 2021 semester. It will also attempt to “provide a regular-season schedule and/or conference championship experience” for winter athletes during spring 2021 if it’s safe to return to play.
“The NE-10 considers the health and safety of its student-athletes, coaches, administrators, staff and wider campus communities to be of paramount importance,” the conference said in statement. “Despite each institution’s planning over the past few months and the conference’s collective efforts to forge a path forward, it has become clear that we are not able to conduct outside competition at this time in a manner that is consistent with the prioritization of our campuses’ collective well-being.
St. Michael’s, located in Colchester, is the third local Vermont college to have its upcoming season shelved recently due to health risks and the fear of spreading the coronavirus. Norwich announced Wednesday it will not participate in fall athletics and Middlebury saw its conference, NESCAC, cancel sports competition for the fall.
The NE-10 also said practices, training and other team activities during the fall will be determined by each member institution. Aid agreements for the 2020-21 school year will be honored by each school, the conference said.
“We do not take this decision lightly and understand its impact. Our campus communities will do everything we can to support the well-being of our student-athletes this fall as we navigate these uncertain times together,” the conference said.
At SMC, the Purple Knight teams affected include men’s and women’s cross-country running, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s alpine and Nordic skiing.
In a letter to student-athletes Thursday, SMC athletic director Chris Kenny said the decision by the conference and its 14 members was not reached easily.
“This is such a difficult time — like you, we are incredibly frustrated by the challenges of this unprecedented existence. We feel the pain that you are feeling, and knowing there are hundreds of other institutions across the country facing the same fate doesn’t make it any easier,” Kenny wrote. “But it’s never been more important for us to recommit to this fight; to have the discipline and selfless focus to adhere to proven steps that abate the virus.”
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