SoCon postpones fall sports, allows non-conference games

ETSU Bucs

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WJHL) — The Southern Conference has decided to postpone fall sports with hopes of moving them to the spring.

The SoCon Council of Presidents decided Thursday that there will be no conference competition this fall, although non-conference contests will be allowed.

This will impact football, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball.

Schools will be allowed to hold practice and competition for some sports that have their championships in the winter or spring but traditionally have practice and competitions in the fall. This includes men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s lacrosse, baseball, softball, and rifle.

East Tennessee State University Athletic Director Scott Carter issued this statement regarding the decision:

Earlier today, the Southern Conference announced that it will not have fall conference competition due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the intention to move fall sports’ regular-season competition and championships to the spring. This difficult decision was made in the best interest of health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans. In making this decision, extensive research was conducted surrounding COVID-19 resocialization parameters, NCAA mandated standards, associated financial realities, and several other factors. ETSU Sports Medicine staff, Athletic Administration, the ETSU COVID-19 working group, and ETSU Health have worked tirelessly with campus leadership to create protocols for the maximization of health and safety. These incredible efforts place ETSU Athletics in the most favorable position possible to combat this pandemic.

Our charge now shifts to working with the NCAA and Southern Conference to safely train and prepare our student-athletes in all of our fall sports for a future season in the spring. It is our hope that a more favorable health and safety environment can allow for competitions and championships to take place at that time.

Scott Carter, ETSU Director of Athletics

ETSU’s football team was set to open the season on Sept. 19 by hosting conference-foe Samford. The Buccaneers were originally scheduled to open the season Sept. 5 against Mars Hill, but the game was canceled when the South Atlantic Conference postponed the start of the fall sports.

The Bucs’ Sept. 12 game against Georgia was also canceled due to the Southeastern Conference’s decision to play conference-only games. ETSU was set to receive $550,000 for making the trip to Athens.

SoCon Commissioner Jim Schaus said that while the majority of conference presidents supported the postponement, the vote was not unanimous.

“This decision was made with extensive evaluation and conversation,” Schaus said. “Ultimately, we felt it necessary to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff. This decision was also supported by the conference’s medical advisory committee.

“I am greatly saddened to not be able to conduct our fall conference competition. We know what this means to our student-athletes, coaches, staff and loyal fans, but safety must come first. We are still hopeful that we can have these sports successfully compete in the spring. We will continue to daily monitor the COVID-19 situation in order to make prudent and necessary decisions regarding athletic practice and competition in the future.”

This is a developing story. Look for updates on WJHL.com.

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