UVM delays start of winter sports for 2020-21 season

The University of Vermont will not begin its winter sports season as planned.

Less than a week after announcing its men’s and women’s hockey schedules — and less than a week before those seasons were supposed to begin — UVM announced Sunday evening that it will not compete in any winter sports contests until at least Dec. 18.

UVM athletic director Jeff Schulman said in a statement that his department arrived at the decision after conversations with the Vermont Department of Health and university president Suresh Garimella.  He described the move as the “most responsible course of action.”

The UVM men’s and women’s hockey teams were readying to begin their 2020-21 campaigns against Connecticut this Friday.

More:Hockey East schedules: UVM men to open season at home vs. UConn on Nov. 20

The teams face off during the men's hockey game between the Dartmouth Big Green and the Vermont Catamounts at Gutterson Field House on Friday night January 10, 2020 in Burlington, Vermont.

The men’s basketball team had planned to kick off its season on Nov. 30 with the first of three games in as many days. The Catamounts were to take part in a multi-team event called “Bubbleville” at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

More:America East schedules: What you need to know for UVM men’s, women’s basketball

“Our state is obviously seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and it’s important that our programs are operating in a manner that is consistent with guidance from state officials,” Schulman said in a statement. “I certainly feel for our student-athletes, coaches and staff who have been following strict protocols in preparing for a return to competition.

“Moving forward, we will make every effort to play out our competitive schedules while always prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our student-athletes, as well as that of our campus and community.” 

As the schedule stood on Sunday evening, the first action of the winter season would see the Catamount hoops squads squaring off against UMass Lowell on Dec. 19, the same day the UVM women’s hockey is supposed to host New Hampshire. 

The state announced last week that, with the COVID-19 cases surging, all recreational sports are suspended until at least Dec. 15 unless otherwise stated.

Vermont high school winter sports contests will not begin until at least Jan. 11. 

More:Governor announces sweeping restrictions as Vermont nears COVID ‘tipping point’

Contact Austin Danforth at 651-4851 or edanforth@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @eadanforth.