Theophil Syslo/Bates College
On Tuesday, the NESCAC presidents announced that they had reached an agreement for “a limited schedule of conference competition for spring sports,” with the caveat that it will allow each individual institution to make its own decision regarding collegiate spring competition.
Each spring sport will require six participating NESCAC schools in order for conference play to go forward.
Bates Athletic Director Jason Fein also announced that he expects championships to be held in baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, rowing, tennis, and track and field sometime in early to mid-May, assuming NESCAC competition begins in April and there are enough participating schools across each sport.
Both Bates and the NESCAC emphasized that while competition is being resumed, by no means are the health protocols in place to protect communities from COVID-19 being abandoned. In fact, the protocols will be increased so that athletic competition can go ahead.
As explained in a memo sent out to Bates students by Josh McIntosh, “All institutions participating in NESCAC spring competition have comprehensive testing protocols for all students on campus. Additionally, any participating school will require a COVID-19 antigen screen for student-athletes on the day of competition. This will keep NESCAC competition aligned with best practices set forth by the NCAA chief medical officer and NCAA COVID-19 Response Team.”
In addition to antigen testing the day of competition, student-athletes must wear masks during travel to competition as well as during competition. Teams will not use indoor dining or facilities during their travel for competition, and competition will only go as far as can be driven in a single day round-trip.
The return of collegiate competition is welcome by many coaches and athletes across the NESCAC. After almost a year to the day without sports in an already difficult year, athletes will finally be able to return to some sense of normalcy.
The NESCAC presidents echoed this sentiment, adding at the end of their memo, “The past year has posed an extraordinary set of challenges. We are grateful to all members of our communities for the strength and resilience they have shown. As the vaccine rollout accelerates, we are optimistic we can return to a more typical collegiate experience next year.”