It is with continued sadness that I write to share the news that the Midwest Conference Presidents’ Council and the Midwest Conference COVID-19 working group have announced today that it would not sponsor league competition, including championships, for all fall and winter sports during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Sports impacted by this decision include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, and volleyball. Conference-wide decisions for men’s and women’s hockey and fencing are still pending, but the sense is that these sports will move in a similar direction.
You can read more about the decision on the Lawrence University Athletics website.
There is no question that our disappointment continues. Just as we did in the fall, this decision is a result of a thoughtful and thorough process to evaluate whether or not competition would be feasible in our current climate, with the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff always at the forefront of our thinking and decision-making process. Unfortunately, the current trends in public health do not support a safe return to play and are actually in a more tenuous place than they were when this decision was made in the fall. The landscape of the recommendations from the NCAA regarding resocialization of sport continue to evolve and the testing protocol for high-risk sports provide many challenges.
While it’s very apparent that sport is an integral part of who our student-athletes are and not just something in which they participate, the next phase of our work for our fall and winter sports will focus on ways in which we can provide a meaningful experience for our fall/winter athletes during the winter term. The good news, you ask? As a department, we had a relatively safe fall athletic experience. It is our intention to find ways to continue to move forward. While we will continue to follow CDC guidelines, Midwest Conference protocol as well as the NCAA resocialization of sport document, we intend to pursue opportunities that allow us to practice in some of the more traditional ways that we are accustomed to. In doing so, if our internal behaviors continue to be positive and the external environment progresses in a positive direction from a health and safety perspective, we may even find opportunities to participate in scrimmages against others, minding the diligence all involved would need to pay to our Pledge and all other parameters.
We intend to remain very hopeful for our spring sports (baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s outdoor track & field). In most cases, the NCAA categorizes our spring sports as more moderately risky than higher risk. The next phase of work for our spring sports will begin to focus on the ways in which we can do sport in the spring safely. This is another space where we can focus on the positive with the hopes of moving forward in a meaningful way.
I know we were all hoping for more opportunities in January of 2021, but with the health and safety of Vikings and all Lawrentians as our top priority, we believe this was the best decision. Even though our teams won’t be competing this winter, we will move forward in safe ways to practice sport in the manner that it was intended. While this time in our history has certainly provided its own set of challenges, much can be learned by facing such adversity.
Director of Athletics