By Ellyn Fritz & Jamie Belfer || News & Sports Editors
After the Presidents of all Centennial Conference schools met on the morning of Tuesday, July 7, a decision was reached regarding the fate of fall 2020 sports. The Centennial Conference announced that intercollegiate competition will be suspended for the fall semester as the institutions seek to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The conference presidents will reevaluate the decision by the end of September; they have determined that football will not be played in the fall. The Centennial Conference will explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, including football, to the spring semester,” a statement from the 2020 Fall Update for F&M’s Athletics & Recreation Plan. Although football will not be competing in the fall, the Centennial Conference Presidents Council will meet by the end of September to make a final decision on competitions for cross country, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, golf, rowing, and tennis.
According to the Athletics Fall 2020 FAQs page, practices for both fall and spring sports will be permitted during the fall semester in accordance with school, state, and CDC safety and compliance protocols for all sports. Although practices typically trigger a season of NCAA eligibility in Division III, if a team does not compete in the Fall 2020 season, student-athletes would not forfeit a season of eligibility unless competitions are later allowed. This comes after the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 spring season where the NCAA granted spring athletes that season of eligibility and did not count the spring season in the 10 season limit for athletic participation.
Practices may take on a new light to coincide with the resocialization policies of both F&M and the NCAA. While spring sports are currently set to practice in the fall, their nontraditional season will be pushed back from early September to a later date in order for F&M to assess the initial impacts of coming back to campus. In addition, rather than practicing as a full team, there has been discussion regarding having smaller group practices initially and ultimately transitioning into full team practices later in the fall. Spring sports will not have a “Play Day” against other teams in the fall.
As all Franklin & Marshall students must make the most educated decision about returning to residential learning, if a student-athletic chooses to not return to campus for the fall semester or the 2020-2021academic year, the FAQ page states “this will not affect their standing on the team. Students should make the best decision for their individual circumstance.”
The plan differs from other sports conferences such as the Southeastern Conference as well as other private liberal arts colleges like Williams and Swarthmore College who have completely cancelled their fall sports seasons in entirety, with no plans to reassess in September.
A decision regarding the fate of winter and spring sports will most likely occur at the end of the fall. Aside from F&M, The Centennial Conference includes Bryn Mawr College, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Johns Hopkins University, McDaniel College, Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College, Ursinus College and Washington College who are all located in Pennsylvania or Maryland.
Junior Ellyn Fritz is The News Editor, her email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junior Jamie Belfer is The Sports Editor, her email email@example.com.