Saturday, August 8, 2020

Eastern Michigan University and Mid-American Conference Decide to Postpone Fall Athletic Competition.

Photo Jeff Brown Purple Walrus Press.

By Editor in Chief & Publisher Jeff Brown.

According to an August 8 press release from Eastern Michigan University, EMU, in coordination with the unanimous decision made by the Mid-American Council of  Presidents, has made the tremendously difficult decision to postpone all athletic contests for the fall of 2020. According to Saturday's press release, contests and championships will be postponed until spring 2021. The health and safety of student athletes, coaches and staff is number one reason for the postponement.

Fall competition in football, cross country soccer and volleyball, golf, tennis and, "Sports in their non-traditional segment, such as baseball." will be postponed.

According to EMU President Dr. James Smith, "The health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff has been our top priority in all actions related to the return to campus this fall. Unlike classroom, residence hall, and campus settings, the field of competition rarely allows for safe physical distancing and may complicate the use of masks or face coverings. These factors create a deep concern for student-athlete health and safety in the current pandemic. Over the past few weeks, we have heard clearly from our state's health and medical experts indicating that this postponement was the only safe path forward. I know this news affects many of you deeply, and please know that I share in your disappointment."

According to EMU, sports such as swimming & diving, gymnastics, indoor track & field and men's and women's basketball are not affected by the decision made by the Mid-American Conference.

According EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scot Wetherbee, "This is not the outcome anyone would have hoped for, but it is the right one. The health and welfare of our student-athletes, their families, our staff and our fans has to guide all decisions made in regards to competing in intercollegiate athletics. Moving the fall season to the spring hopefully affords our league institutions more time to prepare and fine tune our health and safety precautions. Our department will remain focused on ensuring the safest experience possible, as we pivot to provide training and development opportunities. As is always the case, Eastern Michigan Athletics will fully support our student-athletes through this challenging time in their athletic and academic pursuits."

Below see statement from Mid-American Conference Commissioner, Dr. Jon Steinbrecher regarding postponement of Mid-American Conference fall athletic contests.

"I am certain that in the future when people look back at the year 2020, for intercollegiate athletics, it will be remembered as annus horribilis, which is Latin for "horrible year." I am a former student-athlete, and I make today's announcement in that respect alongside proudly serving as the commissioner of a Conference of 12 great institutions that represent thousands of student-athletes, and a fanbase that is passionate about MACtion.

I am announcing that by a unanimous vote of the Mid-American Conference's Council of Presidents, meeting earlier today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic across the United States and around the World and its effect on student-athletes, the Conference will postpone the fall seasons in the sports of men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's and women's soccer, and women's volleyball. It is the intention of the membership to provide competitive opportunities for the student-athletes in these sports during the spring semester of 2021.

This decision was not made lightly nor without significant contemplation and conversation over the past weeks involving numerous meetings with groups including the Council of Directors of Athletics, Conference Medical Advisory Panel and Sports Medicine Group, and the Council of Presidents among others. It included reviewing information from the NCAA and its COVID-19 Task Force, the WHO, CDC, state and local boards of health, as well as state governmental mandates. The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete wellbeing. Clearly we are charting a conservative path – and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group. There are simply too many unknowns for us to put our student-athletes in situations that are not clearly understood. We have traditionally been a leader on student-athlete wellbeing issues. This has not been an easy decision, but for the Mid-American Conference it is the right decision.

When I had to shut down our basketball tournament in March, I was asked how I felt and I gave a very stiff answer saying I didn't feel – I just worked the issue. I said that because I was unsure if I let my emotional wall down – I would not stay composed. Today I am in the same place. This is simply a miserable decision. It is a decision that affects roughly 2,500 student-athletes who live for the moment to compete. Those opportunities and moments are fleeting, and our student-athletes have a limited window in which to showcase their talent, passion, and drive for excellence. I am heartbroken we are in this place. However, I take comfort and want to give assurance to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans that we will make every effort to provide competitive opportunities in the spring.

Today's decision effects fall sports. No decisions have been made regarding winter sports. I can only hope that events transpire that permit us to move forward as scheduled. And, that starts with the successful opening of the fall semester on our campuses."


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