KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The South Atlantic Conference has elected to postpone all intercollegiate athletic competition for fall sports, including football, soccer, volleyball and cross country until the spring 2021 semester.
Fall competition was previously delayed until Sept. 26, but in a press release on Friday afternoon, the conference sited "ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic" as a reason to delay the seasons.
The three local schools in the conference include Carson-Newman, LMU and Tusculum.
"When we made the decision to delay the start of the fall seasons, we were hopeful the nationwide trends would improve and allow our student-athletes to compete," Dr. Maurice Scherrens of Newberry, Chair of the SAC Presidents Council, said. "However, the pandemic has not improved as we had hoped, and we feel the best decision is to postpone any competition to the spring 2021 semester. This was an extremely difficult decision to make and we did not make it without careful consideration of all parties involved."
"This was a very difficult decision that had to be made today," Carson-Newman Vice President for Athletics Matt Pope said. "In working with the SAC and our fellow institutions, playing a full schedule this fall is not tenable. We will continue to put student-athlete safety at the forefront of what we do, and make decisions with that in mind first."
In addition, as a result of the NCAA Board of Governors' directives issued on Aug. 5, the SAC Presidents Council voted to temporarily suspend all athletically-related activities, including practices, weight training, and voluntary workouts for all sports until September 1. The SAC leadership will continue to seek clarification from the NCAA on these directives; however, this temporary pause in athletically-related activities is necessary due to the ambiguity of the Board of Governors' directives regarding testing requirements for practice activities and the coverage of medical expenses for COVID-19 related issues for student-athletes. Activities may be resumed earlier than Sept. 1 if clarification is received from the NCAA on institution's ability to engage student-athletes in team-related activities as long as federal, state, and local guidelines are followed.
The NCAA Division II Presidents Council voted earlier this week to cancel all fall championships for this upcoming season.