ATLANTA, Ga. — The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) has made the very difficult decision to extend the suspension of all sporting and championship events through the Fall of 2020. This decision was primarily predicated on the overarching concern shared by all SIAC member institutions with regard to the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, students, staff, fans and other campus stakeholders. When the initial decision was made by the SIAC to suspend intercollegiate athletics last spring, the conference harbored a measure of cautious optimism in the hope that meaningful progress would occur in connection with the continued spread of coronavirus.
As of today, and as COVID-19 infections surge throughout the country in general and the southeastern region in particular, it would be difficult to fairly and responsibly conclude that meaningful progress has been made at this time.
SIAC Council of President Chairman George T. French, Jr., remarked that “the decision to extend the SIAC suspension into the Fall of 2020 was guided by the prevailing data, science as well as current Coronavirus infection trajectories. In light of these very difficult realities, and in the context of the overarching priority of all of my colleague SIAC presidents to protect the health, wellness and safety of all of our students and staff, we are confident that the decision announced today is consistent with those fundamental health and safety priorities.”
SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore added, “The action taken by our conference to suspend fall sports was informed by a core desire on the part of our SIAC member institutions to make every effort to protect and mitigate COVID-19 related health and safety risk exposure to our students, coaches, and staff during this uncertain and unpredictable environment. It is our intention to seek eligibility relief for those student-athletes impacted by this interruption similar to that relief which was accorded to 2020 Spring sport student-athletes whose seasons were interrupted during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Further, SIAC institutions are committed to assessing the possibility of moving some fall sports, including football, into the spring semester. Certain SIAC institutions may be accorded the latitude to continue to participate in intercollegiate athletics based on preexisting commitments which may be unique to those particular colleges and universities, however those institutions will not be competing for championships during the Fall of 2020.
Finally, the SIAC and The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAA) have prepared a joint statement regarding this matter.
“The CIAA and SIAC both appreciate and understand the significant impact that today’s announcements had in 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.”