Waterville, Maine - The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) announced today that a decision was made and approved regarding the status of the 2020-21 basketball season. The section below is from the official NAC Press Release.
The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Presidents' Council today announced plans for winter sports and a timeline for making final decisions regarding fall and spring sports.
When the Council met in November, presidents offered support for tentative plans to conduct winter sports (men's and women's basketball and swimming & diving) during the spring semester, but opted to wait until January to make a final decision. Due to the state of the pandemic at this time, presidents determined that it is not feasible to conduct a NAC regular or postseason basketball schedule with members spread across three states.
Last fall, the conference developed tentative plans to begin conference basketball games on January 29, 2021. That date was pushed back after several institutions adjusted dates for the start of the second semester. A variety of creative schedule options were crafted in the hopes that NAC basketball could safely be conducted. Ultimately, presidents determined that the best course of action is to forgo a traditional conference schedule this year while allowing schools autonomy to play games at their own discretion.
The health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff, and local communities remains the priority. As such, members agreed to adopt common safety practices for competition in addition to adhering to NCAA guidelines, and will prioritize fellow conference schools when developing independent competition schedules.
"We appreciate the hard work done by athletics administrators, athletic trainers, and conference office staff to develop schedule options and safety protocols with respect to contesting a conference basketball season," said Presidents' Council Chair Ray Rice, also the president at UMaine-Presque Isle. "The Council ultimately determined the safest course of action is to allow each school to provide competitive opportunities for student-athletes in a way that works best for each campus."
Previously approved spring sports schedules and championships remain in place while contingency planning is underway in the event adjustments are needed. Spring sports include baseball, softball, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's outdoor track & field, and men's tennis. Presidents will reconvene in mid-to-late February to determine if changing course will be needed for swimming & diving, fall, or spring sports.
Eligible student-athletes in all sports benefit from a blanket waiver in Division III this year. They will not be charged with a season of participation, regardless of the level of practices or games that do occur throughout the year. Student-athletes also have two extra semesters to take advantage of extended eligibility.
"As the pandemic rages on it does not make sense to put anyone on our campus at risk this winter." Said SUNY Poly Athletic Director Kevin Grimmer. "We remain entirely sympathetic to our student-athletes, coaches, and staff for having to forgo their first foray into NAC basketball, but we look forward to better times soon and the return of all Wildcat sports."
For the full NAC release on the state of winter sports, visit: https://nac.prestosports.com/general/2020-21/releases/20210111j43tmd