The North Atlantic Conference, of which SUNY Canton is a member, as well as the SUNYAC, which includes SUNY Potsdam, announced Monday afternoon that they are canceling fall sports for the upcoming school year.
The SUNYAC not only canceled fall sports, but announced that no winter competitions will begin until Jan. 1, 2021. The SUNYAC announcement also includes no nonconference games from its’ members while the NAC will allow nonconference competition.
A release from the NAC said, “After months of consideration regarding possible options for safely engaging in athletics this fall, NAC presidents and athletic administrators have come to a difficult decision. It has become clear that in the best interest of student athletes, staff, and campus communities, a traditional NAC experience will not be possible this fall.”
The decision means there will be no conference seasons or championships for SUNY Canton men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s golf or volleyball. The women’s golf team competes in the Northeast Women’s Golf Conference (NWGC), which has yet to make a formal announcement.
“It’s tough,” Roos athletic director Randy Sieminski said. “You know our student athletes and coaches put their heart and souls into preparing for these seasons. It’s something they love so much. To limit that, or not be able to do it, is gut-wrenching. It happened this spring and in our wildest dreams then I didn’t think we’d be in this position in the fall, but here we are. We hope we can provide (athletes) with something as close as we can to meaningful workouts and potentially games or meets as soon as possible. As a school we support the decision by the NAC.”
Sieminski said SUNY Canton has not had a meeting yet about the women’s golf situation and added that it’s still possible the other fall teams could compete in nonconference games or meets. Clarkson and St. Lawrence University have not seen their fall seasons end yet so it is possible they could compete against SUNY Canton teams in nonconference events which would require no out-of-area travel.
“We do benefit from those possibilities in the north country,” Sieminski said. “We haven’t ruled (nonconference games) out. We are still hopeful we might be able to do that, even if they don’t count for much more than a win or a loss. We know how much it means for our student athletes.”
The conference did announce that schools may choose to safely conduct athletic activities, including nonconference games or events, at their own discretion. That also frees up schools to hold practices, strength and conditioning work and intersquad events as well. The NAC also said it will explore the possibility of conducting fall sports activities in the spring.
“This is a difficult day for NAC students, coaches and staff,” Commissioner Marcella Zalot said. “I want to thank the athletics administrators and leadership at each institution for their efforts to try and play (an) NAC fall season. What we wished we could do and ultimately what we are able to do are just in two different places right now.”
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of all those who take part in athletics within the NAC while allowing for competition among institutions when it is safe to do so,” Raymond Rice, President of UMaine-Presque Isle and chair of the NAC Presidents’ Council, said. “While it won’t be a traditional experience for us this fall, we know how important it is to have a plan in place that provides member schools with options to conduct athletics in a way that supports the well-being of student athletes and athletic staff.”
Division III recently announced that eligible student athletes whose teams compete in 50% or less of the sport’s maximum contests or dates of competition during the upcoming year will not be charged with a season of participation. Similarly, eligible student athletes who don’t compete, or compete in a limited fashion, will not be charged with semesters of enrollment. Put simply, student athletes may practice and compete this coming year without compromising a year of eligibility.
No decision regarding winter or spring sports has been made at this time.
As of Monday the Liberty League, in which St. Lawrence University and Clarkson compete has not announced plans to cancel fall sports. The Liberty League announced July 7 that athletic contests have been pushed back to a Sept. 26 start date.