OAC postpones intercollegiate athletics for remainder of 2020

Women's soccer player kicking the ball

The President's Council of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) has put all NCAA intercollegiate athletic competition on hold through December 31, 2020, amid continued concern about COVID-19. The Conference is committed to moving NCAA intercollegiate competition to the spring, with various models being currently discussed.

While competition will not occur in Fall 2020, the Conference is planning a robust engagement of student-athletes during the fall semester with conditioning and preparation for competition according to CDC guidelines, NCAA criteria in conjunction with local health guidelines.

"The OAC believes we can continue to provide an excellent experience for our student-athletes," said Tim Gleason, Commissioner of OAC, "while continuing to make the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, families, fans, and campus communities our highest priority."

The fall sports that have intercollegiate competition postponed include cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. The winter season sports of basketball, indoor track and field, swimming and diving, and wrestling will also have intercollegiate competition postponed during the 2020 calendar year, with plans to resume in January 2021.

FAQs - Fall 2020 Athletics, Intramurals and Club Sports

How was this decision made?
This decision was not made quickly, and we worked hard to preserve competitive opportunities this fall season, and avoid this outcome. Since the abrupt cessation of athletics last spring, The OAC athletic directors, senior woman administrators, athletic trainers and team doctors have been planning for our return to play. The OAC presidents and have also met regularly to review and direct the work being done.

Additionally, we have consulted with public health experts and utilized the guidance of national health organizations and national sport governing bodies such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, the American Enterprise Institute, the White House, the American College Health Association, the National Athletic Training Association's Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine, and the NCAA, in particular the Association's Core Principles for Resocialization of College Sports. This work resulted in what we considered truly collaborative strategies, best practices, and risk mitigation guidelines.

We all wanted to find a way to safely resume competition within the conference and against other schools, if at all possible. Yet, even with all of our plans, we cannot completely control the environment around us. Infection rates of COVID-19 are increasing in many areas and the risk of community transmission of the virus is too great at this time to allow for a truly safe return to competition this fall. As a result, the OAC Presidents Council determined that we must suspend competition for the remainder of 2020.

What is the NCAA's Core Principles for Resocialization Collegiate Sports?
The idea of sport resocialization is predicated on a scenario of reduced or flattened infection rates combined with small group activity. Once we are satisfied that the health of everyone has been maintained, we can then move to larger group activity. You will find full details HERE. The NCAA is continuing to monitor all information around COVID-19. Please continue to check the website for updates.

What sports does this decision cover?
The sports covered are men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's rowing, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's tennis and women's volleyball; Men's and women's basketball, and men's and women's indoor track & field.

What will it be like to participate on a team this fall semester?
After considering all of the health and safety factors involved with competition, the OAC has suspended traditional intercollegiate competition for our teams this fall semester. Individual return-to-play protocols will be in place at each member institution to allow for an athletic experience without traditional competition within the parameters of federal, state, local, institutional, conference, and NCAA guidance. In the meantime, we plan for teams to be able to practice and gather this fall under the supervision of their coaches, as long as they comply with all safety standards in place across their respective campuses.

Will this decision affect spring sports in their nontraditional season?
Following all federal, state, local, conference, and NCAA guidelines, spring sports will be permitted to practice and gather in the fall semester. However, teams in the nontraditional season will not compete in the fall semester. The NCAA recently approved a proposal to allow schools more flexibility in conducting practice and competition in both the traditional and non-traditional seasons. Visit the NCAA website HERE for the full announcement.

Will winter teams be able to participate in practices in the fall?
Following all federal, state, local, conference, and NCAA guidelines, winter sports will be permitted to practice and gather in the fall semester. However, teams will not compete in the fall semester. The NCAA recently approved a proposal to allow schools more flexibility in conducting practice and competition, including allowing basketball practice to begin on October 1st. Visit the NCAA website HERE for the full announcement.

When will decisions be made about winter and spring sports competition?
The OAC statement specifically applies to any competition during the fall semester. Decisions about winter and/or spring sport competitions will be made at a later date and probably well into the fall semester. Any competition would not occur until at least January 1 and will likely be prefaced by a period of resocialization and acclimatization. We will monitor public health guidance and continue our work with local, state and federal health authorities, as well as the NCAA and other national medical and sports organizations.

Will there be an opportunity for fall sports to have a competitive season in the spring?
The OAC remains committed as a conference and as individual institutions to building an academic and athletic experience for our student-athletes that is as safe and robust as possible. The OAC is currently working on plans for the spring semester that include competitive seasons for the fall sports should public health conditions allow.

Will practicing affect my NCAA eligibility?
No. For Division III student-athletes, participation in workouts, meetings, or practices in their usual season during the fall semester will not trigger the use of a season of participation. Additionally, the NCAA recently issued a blanket waiver that states that Division III student-athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team can complete only 50 percent or less of the sport's maximum contests/dates of competition due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA also issued a blanket statement stating that a student-athlete will receive a two-semester extension of eligibility (towards their 10-semester total) if they are unable to participate due to COVID-19 or if their team completes 50% or less of that sport's maximum contests/dates of competition. Visit the NCAA website HERE for the full announcement.

Will club sports be offered?
With the exception of eSports, we will be suspending all club sports competition through December 31, 2020. All club sport activities must be approved by the club's advisor in conjunction with the Student Life Office.

Will intramural sports be offered this year?
Intramural programming for 2020-21 will be designed to meet the health and safety standards outlined by the college.  Several non-contact activities are being considered. More specific details will be provided at a later date.

Will the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center and outdoor facilities be open?
The Dyson Baudo Recreation Center reopened on May 26th with increased sanitizing and cleaning protocols. The Fitness Center is limited to 25-30 people working out at a time to allow for proper social distancing. All users are screened for COVID symptoms prior to using the DBRC. Outdoor facilities will be open designated hours. Additional safety protocols to come.

Will student-athletes be able to access athletic training services?
The Athletic Trainers will be taking the necessary precautions for risk mitigation including increased cleaning, distancing when possible, and masking. Due to space and population density considerations, training room policies are currently being revised. ?The availability of the athletic training staff will be by appointments only to reduce the number of student-athletes in each athletic training facility and allow for greater social distancing. Appointments will be made through ATS, the AT Department's electronic medical records system.

Will student-athletes need a pre-participation physical exam (sports physical)?
Yes, physicals are still required due to the possibility of organized team activities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty surrounding it, all varsity student-athletes are asked to complete their pre-participation physical exam and all medical paperwork prior to arriving on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. Please use the attached pre-participation physical form. The pre-participation physical should be uploaded to the ATS Athlete Portal along with all other medical forms and information. Please refer to the email sent by Head Athletic Trainer Kurt Wile for information on how to complete all information on the ATS Athlete Portal. The athletic training staff asks that you complete the pre-participation physical exam and all other medical forms and information as soon as possible and PRIOR to arriving on campus. This will allow the athletic training staff the opportunity to review the exam and all other information to ensure you are safe to participate or follow-up as needed. This is a requirement to participate in varsity athletics at Marietta College, so please do not wait until the last minute. If you have any questions, please contact Kurt Wile at kmw002@marietta.edu.

Can new students defer enrollment? Can current students take a leave of absence?
Any student-athletes considering deferring their enrollment or taking a leave of absence are asked to contact the Director of Athletics, Larry Hiser, at (740) 376-4667 or via email at lrh001@marietta.edu to discuss all options available for the student.

If a senior student-athlete does not use all eligibility and graduates from Marietta, can the student-athlete use the remaining eligibility in graduate school or a post-baccalaureate program?
Any student-athlete who does not complete their four years of participation while enrolled at Marietta would be permitted the opportunity to use remaining years of participation while enrolled in a graduate school or a post-baccalaureate program. Students may also work on finishing an academic minor or starting a second baccalaureate degree. Those interested in doing so would need to work with the compliance officer.