“These are uncertain and challenging times, but as we move forward it is vital that we continue to take care of our student-athletes,” IUP Athletic Director Todd Garzarelli said this morning. “We will commit to do our due diligence on all things related to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide for our student-athletes to ensure their long-term success.”
The PSAC board of directors voted Tuesday in Lock Haven to suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” said IUP President Dr. Michael A. Driscoll, a member of the PSAC board. “Athletics adds a great deal to university life and to the life of our community. Our alumni and friends, including our home community, are incredibly supportive of our student-athletes and our athletic program.”
Those sports include football, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said student-athletes could not be put at greater risk than the general student body.
“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” Murray said. “However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members.”
The conference plays in NCAA Division II and has 18 members, including IUP as well as 12 other State System universities at Bloomsburg, California, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester; plus Shepherd University in West Virginia: and Gannon, Mercyhurst and Seton Hill universities as well as the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
“We appreciate the PSAC and the conference presidents for their care and thoughtful approach to the fall semester,” Garzarelli said.
The conference also has done a full review of its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester, and will do so if it believes a return to competition can be safely executed.
“We are committed to giving our student-athletes the chance to compete during this academic year,” said California University of Pennsylvania President Geraldine Jones, newly elected chair of the PSAC board of directors. “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.”
All fall and winter sports scheduled to begin before Jan. 1 are affected by this decision. Winter sports include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and wrestling.
“I am disappointed for our student-athletes who were hoping to be competing this fall,” Driscoll said. “But, this is the right decision to make to keep our students, our coaches, and our prospective spectators safe and healthy.”
Conference officials said they will evaluate necessary schedule changes and make known their plans for the spring semester at a later date. Sports on that list include baseball, men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.