Atlantic 10 Postpones Fall Sports to Spring; Introduces Potential “Look-in Window”

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Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

After some time of speculation, the fate of Fordham Athletics for the next few months has been determined for now.

On Thursday, the Atlantic 10 Conference announced postponement of fall varsity sports and championships until the spring due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Fordham plays in the A-10 for every fall sport, except for football, which plays in the Patriot League. On Monday, the Patriot League announced that they had cancelled all fall sports for the year, just a few days after Fordham had canceled the first three weeks of their planned 2020 football season.

Postponing the season as opposed to canceling also allows for some wiggle room. What the conference (and the leadership of the member institutions) have established is a 60-Day “look-in window” in the middle of September that would allow for some kind of abbreviated season in the fall if the situation does improve by then. A potential restart after the window would require the approval of appropriate medical professionals, and if it does not happen, athletes would continue attending classes and prepare for a spring season.

In regards to the conditions that would allow a fall re-start, Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade made it clear in a virtual press conference on Friday afternoon that the state of the coronavirus in the United States would have to change.

“There would have to be a significant upward trend in [the lowering of] all of the impacts we’re seeing right now,” she said during the press conference, while also adding that the “look-in window” would allow them to put together a conference schedule that would commence by October 4.

“It’s a slim opportunity,” McGlade continued,”but we felt like we should keep it on the table.”

Postponing fall sports will directly affect the four Fordham programs that play in the A-10 in the fall: men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball. It will additionally postpone the fall competitive schedules for men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming & diving and women’s rowing as well as the non-competitive schedules of baseball and softball.

This was not an easy decision to make,” said Fordham’s interim director of athletics Ed Kull in a statement released on Friday morning. “The Athletic Directors and Presidents [of the conference] have been meeting once a week since March to determine the best course of action for our student-athletes.” 

Kull went on to say that, “although this may not be the outcome we want, I know the Fordham community will join me in supporting the health and safety of our student-athletes as our number one priority.”

The move by the Atlantic 10 does not come as much of a surprise, as collegiate athletic programs all over the United States are faced with the task of handling their fall seasons while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the country. While New York State may be seeing a decrease in new cases, states such as Texas and Florida (the latter being the “bubble” for the continuation of the NBA season) have become global hotspots for the virus. The Big 10 and the Pac 12 (two of Division I athletics’ “Power Five” conferences) have already cancelled non-conference competition for the fall, limiting travel and allowing a uniform testing plan for their programs. As of now, the Ivy League is the only other conference to take the leap of moving fall sports to the spring, an announcement they made last week.

When asked about what the travel accommodations for programs would look like during the fall season, McGlade explained that, “that work is done,” as these details had been decided by the conference in the spring in preparation for a postponement such as this one. The conference had apparently devised a way to condense travel schedules by 25% while still maintaining NCAA eligibility status and sponsorship status while also limiting almost 70% of air travel and having put fall sports into regional pots.

When they return to campus for the fall, these athletes will have the chance to practice and train with their teams in a modified way that complies with proper health protocols for their area.

We will continue to monitor the evolving situation and work closely with the University Reopening Group, Fordham Athletics Pandemic Committee, and the Atlantic 10 to assist in the modification of our plan for our student-athletes to return safely back to campus,” Kull said in closing out his Friday morning statement.

Besides Swimming & Diving events scheduled for the fall season, the A-10’s winter sports schedules will proceed as previously planned.

But for collegiate athletics programs all over the country, the next few weeks will decide how many sports and how many conferences, if any, will play in the fall.