Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present evolving challenges to our campuses and communities, Wittenberg University, in conjunction with the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Presidents’ Council, has suspended all intercollegiate competition through December 31, 2020.
The NCAC had previously been working toward a modified, conference-only fall schedule built around a health and safety plan developed by athletic and medical staff members, but the league was forced to re-evaluate its plan following the most recent Resocialization of Sport Guidelines that were released by the NCAA Sports Science Institute on Thursday, July 16th.
"Since May the athletic department has been working non-stop to prepare a plan to reengage our student-athletes," said Vice President and Director of Athletics & Recreation Gary Williams, Ph.D. "We have always operated under the assumption that the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and campus community are our highest priority and would guide our course of action. However, with the recent update from the NCAA, coupled with the current trends associated with COVID-19 on a local and national level, it became clear to us that the risks associated with a traditional fall athletic experience were too high, thus leading us to the collective decision we made with our conference peers."
All of Wittenberg's sport programs will be affected by this decision in some way, including those sports with non-traditional fall seasons, winter sports with competition dates in the fall semester, and those sports not affiliated with the NCAC (women's water polo and men's volleyball).
"We are committed as an institution to providing the best possible campus experience this fall under the current health conditions, which includes offering some form of meaningful athletically related activity across all sport programs during the fall semester," Williams said. "While this is very disappointing to our student-athletes and staff, and may not be what we had all hoped for or expected, we are not alone in this decision across the country. We know this is the right thing for our community at this time and will continue to pursue every opportunity possible to engage our student-athletes safely beyond their classroom experience."
Wittenberg University and the NCAC are committed to exploring creative approaches and alternatives to provide engaging and meaningful experience for student-athletes in the fall, which will include practice, skill development, strength & conditioning, leadership and professional development opportunities. We will also call on our campus and Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committees and our coaches to develop non-traditional ways for our student-athletes to engage in competitive opportunities this fall.
Wittenberg University and the NCAC will continue to explore all options for a safe return to intercollegiate competition in the spring semester.
Please visit the following website created by the NCAC that will compile Frequently Asked Questions/Answers surrounding this topic for both student-athletes and their parents over the coming weeks: https://northcoast.org/News/2020-21/Releases/FAQ20