NESCAC Presidents Decide to Cancel Conference Winter Sports

Photo Courtesy: Williams College Athletics

The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Thursday announced a unanimous decision by its school presidents to cancel the conference’s winter athletics season and championships.

The decision affects sports like swimming and diving as well as men’s and women’s basketball. It delayed a decision on the fate of spring sports. It follows the model of NESCAC’s actions in July, when it postponed the fall season but deferred a decision on the winter. The statement does, however, leave open the door for some competition outside of the conference at the discretion of individual schools.

Citing students’ delayed returns to campus for the spring semester due to caution over the COVID-19 pandemic and limits on travel and campus visitors already in place due to coronavirus, the presidents decided that it would be too onerous to conduct a sports season. With conference competition in the NESCAC usually attached to students’ return from winter break, the presidents determined that “there will not be enough time to conduct meaningful conference play.”

From a letter posted on the NESCAC site:

We understand this decision will disappoint many of our students, given the important role athletics plays in the student experience. We remain committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our students to engage in athletic activities. Students may continue to participate in practice activities, strength and conditioning, skill development and leadership programming in accordance with NCAA, Conference and institutional policies, as well as state and local health guidelines. Institutions may schedule outside competition at their discretion.

The NESCAC, which competes in Division III, counts among its members Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan and Williams. Williams is the presiding power, having won all by three of the 40 men’s and women’s conference championships. As recently as 2017, Williams was the NCAA Division III women’s swimming and diving runner-up.


  1. Andrea Russo

    Why should all sports for the season be lumped together? Some can be trained and can have competition with guidelines for social distancing

  2. Sharon Chocko Gallagher

    Time to stop living in fear and stop this nonsense. Hope the programs don’t fall victim to lack of revenue.

    • Julie Tellier

      Sharon Chocko Gallagher seriously! I total agree!! Is life just supposed to stop? And until when? Let these kids compete

    • avatar

      D3 sports do not generate any profit for their schools.

  3. Rob Richardson

    Did they actually look at the stats for who gets Covid infection and /or dies? Under 75 yo the rate is .2%. Stop the madness

  4. Carol Inman Greeman

    I can see this for some sports, but for swimming it makes no sense. Swim meets can be done virtually or socially distanced.

  5. Felicity Lohm Cantrell

    At Midd, for instance, kids are going home Nov 21, and not back on campus til March 1. That’s a long time after just coming back from being away from mid March til end of August.
    Sad for my swimmer.

    • Sharon Chocko Gallagher

      Felicity Lohm Cantrell sorry to hear that. 3 months is a long time to be away from school. I would not be happy.

  6. avatar

    The President of Bowdoin didn’t want Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to join the American army either so the current president is following right in his predecessor’s cowardly footsteps.