SWAC Releases Statement RegardingFall Sports Competition
"I am heartbroken that our student-athletes will not get a chance to compete this fall, as they have put in countless hours getting ready for their seasons,” Alabama State University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jennifer Lynne Williams said. “The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance and as athletic administrators our top goal is student-athlete welfare. We must continue to do our part and practice the safety guidelines set forth by the CDC, and our Return to Play plan so that we can come back stronger and healthier at the turn of the calendar year.
“Though we are not getting the outcome we set out for since the onset of these perilous times, there are still some things that we can be proud of -- the determination and fighting spirit displayed in the classroom, in your communities and in the hearts of Hornets everywhere has not gone unnoticed. It is still a great time to be a Hornet!"
The fall sports impacted include men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. The conference has started the process of formalizing plans to conduct a competitive schedule for the fall sports during the 2021 spring semester.
Specifically, in the sport of football the plan includes a seven-game conference schedule beginning with an eight-week training period in January 2021. Each member institution will play a total of six conference games (four divisional/two non-divisional) with the option to play one non-conference game.
Additional details regarding scheduling for women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country along with the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Championship game will be released at a later date.
Fall sports teams and student-athletes will have the opportunity to attend classes and practices in preparation for a spring 2021 competitive schedule upon return to campus. Student-athletes will have the ability to participate in conditioning, strength training and practices in all sports provided all required local, state, and federal health and safety guidelines are met. There have been no final decisions made regarding competitive schedules for the league’s winter sports at this time.
The SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors felt this action was necessary out of growing concern for the health, safety and well-being both mentally and physically of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, team staff, campus faculty, fans and supporters.
The continued increase of COVID-19 cases across many portions of the league’s geographic footprint and Southern regions of the country played a significant role in the council’s decision, along with data that suggests African-American communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SWAC shares in the disappointment that will undoubtedly be felt by student-athletes, fans, and supporters impacted by the postponement of fall sports competition. The league will continue to review appropriate measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and the local community which continues to be the primary responsibility of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and its member institutions.
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