Big East Conference postpones fall athletics for its member schools

By The Sports Pulse Staff

The Big East Conference, comprised of 11-member institutions, including Georgetown University, announced it would postpone its six fall sports in 2020 and possibly moving them to 2021. 

With the coronavirus pandemic’s continuing impact, the decision received help from the Big East COVID-19 Task Force. The group comprises administrators, doctors, athletic trainers, student-athletes and national experts in global pandemics and infectious diseases.

“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,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said. 

Fall sports affected are men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and field hockey. During the fall, Big East athletes will be allowed to participate in team activities, such as practices, team meetings and strength and conditioning sessions. Sports not sponsored by the conference will not be affected.

Chair of the Big East Board of Directors and Villanova University President Peter M. Donohue said that the hope was for the conference to participate in fall sports. However, the guidance provided by the conference’s task force showed the importance of health and safety for student-athletes. 

“The well-being of our community members are, and will continue to be, our priority and focus,” Donohue said.  

Ackerman said that plans for other sports, such as men’s and women’s basketball, are not affected by the announcement as the conference plans to return to play in late 2020. The Big East will continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions around the country and decide its winter and spring sports schedule at a later date.

The Big East was the last major conference to suspend basketball activities at the start of the pandemic in March. Now, it joins a host of conferences to announce its schools’ inactivity in the fall. Their decision comes just a day after two Power Five conferences, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, announced that they would postpone fall sports, including football. 

Meanwhile, the Big 12 reaffirmed its position to play in the fall by releasing its football schedule on Wednesday. Both the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) plan to continue forward with their fall sports seasons while monitoring the coronavirus.  

Georgetown Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said while he understands the “incredible sadness and frustration” on learning the new, health and safety remains the highest priority and the reason why the Big East made its decision 

“Since March, I have observed our student-athletes continue to overcome challenges, and I know that, despite the latest setback, we will get through this,” Lee said. “We remain committed to supporting our student-athletes remotely and will not stop in preparing for the day that we can all safely return to the Hilltop.” 

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