Monday, July 27, 2020 - 12:00
Council of Presidents cites health and safety concerns surrounding pandemic
by Adam Grybowski
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) announced today, July 27, that it has decided to cancel fall sports competition because of continuing health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Rider, which is one of 11 institutions in the MAAC, the sports affected will be men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, and volleyball.
“For all of us who take pride in Rider Athletics, today’s decision touches us deeply," said Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D., Rider’s president. "I feel the pain of disappointment along with every individual who contributes to our programs, particularly our student-athletes.”
Dell’Omo added, “While we must continue to prioritize their health among any other concerns, I want to recognize that the grit, discipline and passion they display on a daily basis will always be worthy of our admiration and our respect. We all look forward to the day when we can see those traits displayed through competition once again.”
MAAC student-athletes whose seasons have been canceled will still be permitted to train when they return to campus. Institutions will be responsible for implementing their own training guidelines in accordance with state and local COVID-19 regulations and guidance provided by the NCAA.
"While I am extremely disappointed and heartbroken for our fall student-athletes, coaches and fans, the health and safety of all involved in our competitive environment remains a top priority," said Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum. "We will get through this tough time together and continue to support our student-athletes in pursuit of their educational and athletic goals."
The decision from the MAAC followed a meeting of the Council of Presidents. The MAAC said a decision on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined by the presidents at a later date.
“The MAAC Executive Committee will explore with the Committee on Athletic Administration (COAA) the goal of providing the student-athletes with a schedule of contests among conference members in the spring of 2021 in accordance with each institution's procedures and applicable state regulations,” said MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “It is the goal of the MAAC to ensure it recognizes a MAAC champion in each sport and it will review possible championship formats for the fall sports in accordance with evolving state and local regulations.”
Citing the cancelation of the 2020 Hercules Tires MAAC Basketball Championships, the MAAC said the safety and wellbeing of student-athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the conference's top priority. In recent months, the MAAC has issued policy statements regarding the Resumption of Athletic Competition Principles and Return to Campus and Athletic Activity Action Plan for MAAC Institutions.
"The decision to cancel fall sports was made with student-athletes being top of mind," Ensor said. "It is difficult to put into words how I feel for all of the student-athletes, coaches and administrators who put in so much work on a daily basis. Health and safety protocols have been of the utmost priority the last several months, but unfortunately, there are too many factors that prohibit the MAAC and its institutions from safely delivering a competitive atmosphere that these individuals deserve."
In a statement, the MAAC Council of Presidents said that it “recognizes the disappointment that will undoubtedly be felt by student-athletes, fans and supporters impacted by the cancelation of fall sports competition. It was clear during this process that the MAAC membership must focus its review on appropriate measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the campus community, which is the primary responsibility of its member institutions.”
The MAAC Council of Presidents has pledged full advocacy on behalf of its student-athletes to work with the NCAA in the pursuit of any waivers that preserve lost opportunities because of these COVID-19 disruptions. The Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) is working with the NCAA on a series of waivers related to fall sports eligibility and competition.
The MAAC is marking its 40th year of competition during the 2020-21 academic year.