In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Big East Conference has officially postponed fall sports. With its announcement on Wednesday evening that fall competition would be postponed, the Big East joins a number of conferences — including the Big Ten and Pac-12 — that have recently reached similar decisions. Though the upcoming season will not be conducted this fall, the Conference expressed hope that the affected sports could eventually be played if conditions permit.
Fall sports affected by this change include men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball, and field hockey. The decision only binds those sports sponsored by the Big East Conference, although Georgetown further announced that consistent with the decision, the University’s men’s sailing and rowing teams would not compete either. Sports in non-traditional seasons because they were interrupted by spring cancellations, including baseball and lacrosse, are also affected and will not be resuming this fall.
Notably, while competition will not be conducted, team activities will still be permitted. Practices, team meetings, as well as strength and conditioning can continue so long as they comply with NCAA, Conference, and local public health regulations.
The decision released Wednesday evening was reached with the advice of the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, which was convened to inform the conference’s course during the ongoing pandemic. The Task Force itself is an intra-conference advisory group composed of university administrators, coaches, student-athletes, and medical professions. In the Big East’s statement, Commissioner Val Ackerman noted that “This very difficult decision came after an exhaustive review by our Presidents and Athletics Directors and followed consideration of NCAA guidance, COVID-19 case counts and trend lines nationally and in BIG EAST communities, and the many unknowns surrounding testing availability, turnaround time and travel restrictions in our 11 locales.”
With this cancellation, many student-athletes face the difficult loss of their season for the foreseeable future. Georgetown’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed noted that “I understand the incredible sadness and frustration our student-athletes, coaches and staff are feeling upon learning this news and can assure you that I too am disappointed that we will not be competing this fall,” but nonetheless asserted that this step reflects that “the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as our campus communities remains our highest priority.” While according to its statement the Big East will “assess alternative options to stage fall sports contests during the spring of 2021,” tonight’s decision represents another blow to the prospects of intercollegiate athletics in the fall of 2020.