After months of uncertainty, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced its plans for fall and spring sports after its Board of Directors met Nov. 11.
The board, consisting of all 18 university presidents, announced that the 2020 fall sports season will be canceled entirely, while the regularly-scheduled 2021 spring sports season will continue as expected.
In a press release, the PSAC said the decision to cancel fall championships follows the same action by the NCAA which canceled all division two championships earlier this season. The following sports were affected by this decision: men and women’s cross country, soccer, women’s volleyball, field hockey and football.
The PSAC also said that “if six or more universities commit to participating in any of the aforementioned sports, the conference will reinstate a championship season,” however, the decision for whether or not schools participate is still to be determined.
Todd Garzarelli, IUP’s athletic director, told IUP athletics that the decision “brought a mix of emotions, as our student-athletes are both positively and negatively affected.” Garzarelli said he was heartbroken for IUP’s student-athletes, athletics department and the university as a whole, but he supports the decision made by the board of directors.
He also added that IUP will continue to work together to find opportunities for student-athletes to play this spring.
For spring, mandated schedules and championships will still proceed as scheduled, unless a conflict, such as another major COVID-19 spike, calls for its cancelation.
The following sports will continue this spring: men and women’s outdoor track and field, tennis, golf, baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse.
“I am super excited that the PSAC plans on having a spring season,” Haleigh Zimmerman (sophomore, safety science) said.
Zimmerman, a returning infielder for the IUP softball team, and her teammates, had their 2020 season cut short in April due to the pandemic. However, the pandemic was a major curveball for Zimmerman as 2020 was her first season in the crimson and grey. The Crimson Hawks finished 4-10 last season, with the last coming on March 12 where they lost 12-2 in five innings to Ashland.
“Missing one season was already hard enough to take in, and I hope we can come back next semester and have a full season.”
Zimmerman also said that she expects multiple health and safety plans to be adopted by the PSAC to ensure sports can go on without a hitch in 2021.
“I think there will be some changes to our game, like wearing masks in the dugout and using our own softballs at games,” she said. “But I will do whatever I have to in order for me and my fellow sophomores to have our first real season.”
After the announcement, president Michael Driscoll told IUP athletics that he is pleased that the PSAC was pushing for spring sports this year. He said student-athletes had “no competition in spring 2020,” and he added that we need to do all we can to get them back in action.
The board will meet later this week to discuss the fate of winter sports seasons and championships, which would affect sports such as men and women’s basketball, wrestling, indoor track and field and swimming.
Garzarelli concluded that he remains optimistic that winter sports will happen this year, and he thanks all medical professionals, athletic trainers, and coaches and staff for working diligently for athletics to return since summer.