CHARLOTTE – After a thorough analysis, the Board of Directors for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, in conjunction with its Athletic Directors Association, has voted that NCAA sport competition sponsored by the conference will not occur during the fall of 2020 due to ongoing safety concerns associated with COVID-19.
The decision is informed by the reality that several CIAA member schools are located in states experiencing dramatic increases in new COVID-19 cases. This recent rise in cases has led to a pause in phased reopening plans in many of these states, resulting in uncertainty as to whether students will return to campus this fall at several CIAA member institutions.
“This was a difficult decision but remains consistent with our long-standing priority of always acting in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff,” said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “While there will be no athletic competition in the fall, we will continue to support opportunities that enhance the experiences of our student-athletes, member institutions, and partners.”
At the recommendation of the CIAA ADA, with approval from the Board of Directors, the conference will explore the possibility of a modified schedule of competition for football and volleyball as well as men’s and women’s cross country during the spring of 2021.
Additionally, CIAA membership has unanimously agreed to honor athletic scholarships for their fall sports student-athletes.
“The main priority of the Board and conference is the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” states Virginia State University President & CIAA Board Chair Makola Abdullah. “Although this decision is not ideal, it does afford all of us an opportunity to continue working through best practices to ensure our communities as a whole are in the best possible position moving forward.”
If a move to the spring is adopted, revised game and practice schedules will be established along with the process of determining conference champions for these respective sports. A time frame on this decision has yet to be determined.
“The safety, health, and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff are non-negotiable. Decisions of this magnitude are made with those factors as number one priority while looking to address current issues that have an adverse impact on all of us,” said Clyde Doughty, Bowie State VP of Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreation and President of CIAA Athletic Directors Association. “These are unprecedented times and our conference continues to work together to identify the best solutions that address the concerns impacting our ability to participate and exist.”
Decisions concerning winter and spring sports will be discussed as efforts to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases progress.
Lastly, the CIAA and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference have prepared a joint statement regarding this matter.
“The CIAA and SIAC both appreciates and understands the significant impact that today’s announcements with regard to the status of 2020 Fall sports. Both the CIAA and SIAC enjoy athletic-related events, traditions, and rivalries that date back over one-hundred years. However, in light of the increased health and safety risks confronting much of the country, today the CIAA and SIAC affirm that the welfare of our student-athletes is sacrosanct and must preempt all other considerations when evaluating any return to competition efforts.”