MAAC sets guidelines for return of sports

Paul Battson/contributorIn this Feb. 12 file photo, Niagara's Marcus Hammond attempts to pass around Canisius' Scott Hitchon during a men's basketball game at the Gallagher Center.

 

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Council of Presidents adopted a set of guiding principles for the resumption of athletic competition last week, the conference announced Monday.

The council voted to adopt the principles Friday at the recommendation of the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration.

“The MAAC membership is aware that the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic will require flexibility with the response to challenges posed to higher education including college athletics,” MAAC Commissioner Richard Ensor said in a statement. “The principles adopted by the MAAC will guide the conference’s response to these challenges and reflect the member schools’ commitment to work jointly in resuming athletic competition as soon as possible.”

 

The principles are, as written in the release:

• The safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff should guide us as we look to reengage in athletic activities and competition. A measured approach to the startup of fall and winter sports should be taken so we don’t end up having to shut down sports again in the fall.

• COVID-19 will still be with us with the startup of the fall season and enhanced protocols will be needed for the foreseeable future that detail disinfectant processes for practice and training sites, athletic facilities and transportation systems. This adds to the strain on budgets and staffing. There remains the possibility that a ‘second wave’ of the virus may impact sports during the coming year requiring the cooperation of conference members to accommodate changes to schedules and post-season formats.

• The primacy of conference scheduling and championship opportunities for the student-athletes must be prioritized. The championship environment is an essential positive influence for the student-athletes.

• Disruptions in academic and athletic schedules may continue through fall and into winter sports. Conference members has agreed to work as a single entity in meeting these challenges and will not seek competitive or fiscal advantages at the expense of other conference member schools.

• It may be necessary that all student-athletes and personnel may be required to be tested for the COVID-19 virus, or antibody immunity in order to participate in athletic competition and practice.

• It can be anticipated that even with testing an athlete, coach, etc. will subsequently test positive for COVID-19 sometime after sports start up. Safety and communication protocols will be needed to inform persons in contact with the individual who tested positive.

• State and local authorities will have control over the startup of public events. The conference staff must manage differences in their approaches and any attendance limitations and be empowered to switch home sites as dictated by decisions of the governing authorities to maintain the integrity of conference competition.

• Non-conference scheduling may be limited to regional opponents for fall sports as different parts of the country may be hot spots for the virus even as the tri-state region may see the threat diminish in its intensity.

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