The start of the fall sports season will be delayed until mid-September with a conference-only season, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) President’s Council voted Monday. The decision comes months after all spring sports were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This move will affect all football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball teams within the conference. Under the decision, team practices won’t start until Aug. 24, and competition start dates pushed back to Sept. 18.
“The Council reviewed current local, state and national COVID-19 guidelines […] and agreed that closely aligning with these current best practices was essential to maintain a safe and healthy playing environment,” the council wrote in a statement. “Review of safety precautions and protocols will continue throughout the Fall as the RMAC and its members monitor any need for further adjustments.”
It’s unknown whether NCAA fall championships will proceed in November, with a final decision not expected until August.
“The health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement. “We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see. It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner.”
Before voting on whether to hold championships, the council must discuss safety concerns in regards to team availability, travel limitations and varying state health restrictions, according to Emmert.
The council will continue to monitor the developments of COVID-19 in the Rocky Mountain region over the coming months ahead of announcing its decision.
Although athletes may reunite for team practices near the end of August, students will be required to adhere to strict health guidelines.
Because several team sports involve close contact, the NCAA released recommendations for athletes to follow. These include:
- Daily self-health checks
- Face coverings as needed and as appropriate
- Social distancing during training, competition and team travel
- Testing for all athletic activities, whether it’s pre-, mid- or post-season.
- Testing results returned within 72 hours
- Adherence to public health standards by local communities
Some Westminster College student athletes who are engaging in voluntary summer training on campus already complete several of these protocols — including social distancing and daily symptom checks. Students may continue these individual practices — whether on campus or at home — if they resume under public health guidelines.
Competition schedules for Westminster fall sports have not yet been released. Updates are expected to be announced in the coming months.