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Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference suspends all athletic competition until end of year

MICHAEL LOVE
(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
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The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference announced Wednesday morning it is suspending all conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference’s board of directors reached the decision through a vote on Tuesday.

There will be a review of the conference’s ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester. It said it plans to do that if a return to competition can be done safely.

“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said in a release announcing the decision.

“However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members. We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body. Despite our planning and collective efforts, it has become clear that we are not able to do so.”

The decision impacts all fall sports teams, as well as the schedules for the winter sports teams through the end of 2020. The conference said it will evaluate the necessary changes to the schedule and will communicate plans to move all competitions to the spring semester at a later date.

Schools affected are Slippery Rock, Mercyhurst, Clarion, Seton Hill, Cal U (Pa), Indiana University of Pa., Edinboro, Gannon and Pitt-Johnstown, as well as Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, East Stroudsburg, Bloomsburg, Shippensburg, West Chester, Kutztown and Shepherd (W.Va).

The conference and its member schools plan to develop guidelines for all teams to continue individual skill instruction as well as strength and conditioning activities under social distancing protocols by the end of the summer.

The determination as to when winter and spring sports may begin workouts, the conference said in the statement, will be considered at date to be determined.

“We are committed to giving our student-athletes the chance to compete during this academic year,” said Geraldine Jones, president of Cal U (Pa.) and the recently elected chair of the PSAC Board of Directors, in the release.

“Many institutions and conferences are facing the same circumstances as we are, and if it is safe to return to competition, we will work with them and the NCAA to provide our teams with a championship experience during the spring semester. We know this is a huge disappointment for our student-athletes who work so very hard in their sport. This decision was not taken lightly, and we feel saddened by having to do so.”

The PSAC decision to cancel its fall sports season comes in the wake of several other NCAA conferences, including the Division I Patriot League and Ivy League, calling off their fall seasons.

Other conferences, including the Big Ten and PAC 12, as well as the local Division III Presidents Athletic Conference moved to conference-only schedules for the fall seasons.

The decision also comes after the conference’s spring sports teams didn’t compete when the NCAA canceled all spring sports seasons in March.