The Atlantic 10 announced Friday that all fall sports contests and championships will be completed during the spring semester in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eleven GW teams – volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, golf and men’s and women’s cross country – are unable to compete this fall. Details about rescheduled competitions and championships will be released at a later date, the release states.
“Safety, health and the well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the campus community at large is the primary concern and responsibility of the Atlantic 10 Conference and its member institutions,” the release states.
The A-10 and its 14 member institutions have agreed to revisit fall competition during a “look-in window” in mid-September to determine if a shortened conference fall schedule would be possible, according to the release. Conference Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a press conference following the announcement Friday that the truncated fall schedule could begin in early October, depending on the threat of COVID-19.
In order to begin a shortened season, the risk of COVID-19 must “substantially” reduce, and each school’s protocol for preventing the spread of the virus needs to assure the safety of the athletic community, the release states.
Fall athletes will be allowed to practice and train during the fall semester in accordance with guidance from each school and local public health experts. Training and practice changes are being made, but the A-10 has not dictated training or practice modifications, McGlade said.
Aside from men’s and women’s swimming and diving, the conference has not altered winter sports’ schedules at this time, the release states.
“Addressing the immediate return of fall sport student-athletes was the priority in working with every institution’s campus to assure a safe return to school with an opportunity to compete in the winter and spring sports as well as the postponed fall sports competition,” the release states.
In a Frequently Asked Questions document about the decision, the A-10 states that the pandemic is trending “in the wrong direction,” and the necessary precautions to combat the pandemic – limited travel, social distancing and avoidance of large groups – were not conducive to competitive sports.
The document added that accessing and and complying with COVID-19 testing protocols also presented “significant challenges.”
“The presidents and athletic directors believe it is important and ethical to be realistic and honest with their campus community, student-athletes and staff and minimize the health and legal risk in prematurely attempting to compete in the fall sport seasons,” the document states.
The A-10 will retain its regionalized schedules and shortened championship format when competition picks up in the spring, the document said. McGlade said A-10 teams will not participate in fall NCAA Championships if the organization continues to hold them in the fall.
Athletic Director Tanya Vogel said in a statement that her “heart is heavy,” but the decision was “not made quickly or without great care.”
“Our determination and commitment in our work with GW and D.C. public health officials to provide a safe training environment for the fall remains strong,” she said in the statement. “Now our pursuit to plan spring competition and championships for our fall sport teams begins!”