Southern Conference postpones fall sports, allows non-conference games

Sports

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WKRN/WJHL) — The Southern Conference announced Thursday that the league will postpone fall sports due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19.

The SoCon Council of Presidents decided Thursday that there will be no conference competition this fall, although non-conference contests will be allowed.

“This decision was made with extensive evaluation and conversation,” Southern Conference Commissioner Jim Schaus said. “Ultimately, we felt it necessary to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff. This decision was also supported by the conference’s medical advisory committee.

The conference includes East Tennessee State University. This will impact football, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball.

East Tennessee State University Athletic Director Scott Carter issued this statement regarding the decision:

Earlier today, the Southern Conference announced that it will not have fall conference competition due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the intention to move fall sports’ regular-season competition and championships to the spring. This difficult decision was made in the best interest of health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans. In making this decision, extensive research was conducted surrounding COVID-19 resocialization parameters, NCAA mandated standards, associated financial realities, and several other factors. ETSU Sports Medicine staff, Athletic Administration, the ETSU COVID-19 working group, and ETSU Health have worked tirelessly with campus leadership to create protocols for the maximization of health and safety. These incredible efforts place ETSU Athletics in the most favorable position possible to combat this pandemic.

Our charge now shifts to working with the NCAA and Southern Conference to safely train and prepare our student-athletes in all of our fall sports for a future season in the spring. It is our hope that a more favorable health and safety environment can allow for competitions and championships to take place at that time.

ETSU’s football team was set to open the season on Sept. 19 by hosting conference-foe Samford. The Buccaneers were originally supposed to open the season Sept. 5 against Mars Hill, but the game was canceled when the South Atlantic Conference postponed the start of the fall sports.

SCOTT CARTER, ETSU DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS

SoCon Commissioner Jim Schaus said that while the majority of conference presidents supported the postponement, the vote was not unanimous.

“This decision was made with extensive evaluation and conversation,” Schaus said. “Ultimately, we felt it necessary to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff. This decision was also supported by the conference’s medical advisory committee.

“I am greatly saddened to not be able to conduct our fall conference competition. We know what this means to our student-athletes, coaches, staff and loyal fans, but safety must come first. We are still hopeful that we can have these sports successfully compete in the spring. We will continue to daily monitor the COVID-19 situation in order to make prudent and necessary decisions regarding athletic practice and competition in the future.”

It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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