Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Suspends Sports in Fall Semester

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The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) has pulled the plug on sports in the fall semester, suspending competition through Dec. 31, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PSAC had a meeting of its school presidents Tuesday. It had been reported Tuesday night that the decision was imminent.

The move postpones fall sports and delays the start of winter sports, like swimming and basketball, that are due to begin in the middle of the fall semester. The PSAC “has already undertaken a full review of its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester and fully intends to do so if a return to competition can be safely executed.”

“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said in a press release. “However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members. We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body. Despite our planning and collective efforts, it has become clear that we are not able to do so.”

The conference has seven men’s swimming programs and 12 women’s swimming programs. The PSAC comprises 18 schools (16 of which sponsor football) and competes in Division II; 13 are public schools, 12 within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. All by Shepherd (West Virginia) are located in Pennsylvania. Schools in the PSAC include: Bloomsburg, California, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Gannon, IUP, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Mercyhurst, Millersville, Pitt-Johnstown, Seton Hill, Shepherd, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

“We are committed to giving our student-athletes the chance to compete during this academic year,” said Geraldine Jones, President of California University of Pennsylvania and 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. We know this is a huge disappointment for our student-athletes who work so very hard in their sport. This decision was not taken lightly and we feel saddened by having to do so.”

More lower-division college leagues are going that path. The Ivy League remains the only Division I league to have cancelled sports for the fall semester (which includes delaying the start of the winter sports season). In Division II, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference suspended fall sports. The Centennial Conference and NESCAC in Division III did the same.

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