Mid-American Conference Becomes First Division I League to Postpone Fall Sports

Photo Courtesy: Mid-American Conference

The Mid-American Conference (MAC) Saturday became the first Division I college league to announce the postponement of all fall sports due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The decision postpones all fall contests and MAC championships after a unanimous vote of the conference’s Council of Presidents. The MAC is looking to the spring to provide athletic opportunities to affected athletes in men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The announcement does not include any decision on winter sports, such as swimming, which would start in the middle of the fall semester.

“The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being, an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role,” said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. “Clearly, we are charting a conservative path – and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group. It is a decision that affects roughly 2,500 student-athletes who live for the moment to compete.  Those opportunities and moments are fleeting, and our student-athletes have a limited window in which to showcase their talent, passion, and drive for excellence.  I am heartbroken we are in this place. However, I take comfort and want to give assurance to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans that we have their best interest at heart, and we will make every effort to provide competitive opportunities in the spring.”

Reporting from Sports Illustrated indicates that Northern Illinois University was at the forefront of the decision from the league to postpone. As the first Division I football league to cancel, it could open the door for more leagues in the coming weeks. Many Division I leagues have change their fall season due to coronavirus – from delays to league-only schedules – with an eye toward preserving football.

“This decision is in the best interest of all Mid-American Conference student-athletes, athletics departments and university communities,” said Dr. Satish K. Tripathi, the MAC Council of Presidents’ Chair and University at Buffalo President. “The Council of Presidents has always maintained that the health, safety and well-being of everyone within our conference, especially our student-athletes, is our top priority.”

The MAC is working on plans for the spring semester, which starts in January, 2021.


    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      In college and high school, mostly, yes, but two things to note: its a fall sport in a few places AND, even where it is a winter sport, decisions about cancellations etc for fall sports impact swimming and other winter sports because practice will not be possible in many cases… therefore winter ‘race season’ will be relative to what’s possible and in many cases either may not or won’t happen at all. Fall precedes winter… the knock-on is clear.

    • avatar
      Caleb Reigle

      It is a winter sport, but in college our season starts in September, so that means that any meets that happen would fall under the fall which means they too can be suspended. This has already happened to the team im on

  1. avatar
    Ben Do ver

    This is beyond crazy. I hope the country will wake up soon and see the scam that is being orchestrated!!

  2. avatar

    One size does not fit all. I understand that football poses unique risks. Of course, every year, a few high school kids die at football practice, and numerous high school, college and professional football players suffer significant injuries that affect them the rest of their lives. However, they may very well be higher risk to football players from COVID than from playing football, and it seem unlikely that many people would attend football games this fall. So, canceling football probably makes sense.

    But, what, exactly, is the risk involved in cross country? Cross countries runners are more likely to be injured or die in motor vehicle accidents traveling to and from meets than they are to contract die or become seriously ill from COVID that they pick up at a cross country meet.

    Field hockey and volleyball also seem fairly safe while soccer might be a difficult call. That college presidents cannot perform basic risk analysis, but instead impose a one size fits all cancel all sports policy bodes ill for the future of this country.

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