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SAC delays fall sports until late September

The decision impacts Carson-Newman, LMU and Tusculum.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The South Atlantic Conference announced on Friday it will delay the start of all scheduled competition for the 2020 fall sports season until Sept. 26. That directly impacts three local teams - Carson-Newman, LMU and Tusculum. The sports affected include men's and women's cross country, field hockey, football, men's and women's soccer and volleyball.

In a release, the SAC adds that teams will compete in conference-only competition and teams may begin preseason practice, per NCAA bylaws.

"The decision to delay the fall sports season was not an easy one to make," Chair of the SAC Presidents Council Dr. Maurice Scherrens of Newberry said. "However, we feel this is the best course of action as it allows our institutions time to develop best practices for a safe return to campus and competition for our student-athletes. We will continue to assess the ever-changing situation, as we are dedicated to ensuring our student-athletes the opportunity to return to campus in the safest environment possible."

In addition, fall competition schedules for spring sports like baseball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's lacrosse, softball and men's and women's tennis cannot begin before Sept. 26. Winter sports for the 2020-2021 season (men's and women's basketball, men's and women's indoor track and field and wrestling) remain unchanged.

"This was a very difficult decision, but one we feel has the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and fans in mind," SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz stated. "We all understand the desire everyone has to get back out there and play games, but the health and safety of our student-athletes take precedence over playing at this time. It is our responsibility to ensure their safety above all else.  While this does not guarantee our fall sports will be able to compete during their traditional season, a delayed start gives us the best chance to continue to monitor the situation."