Playing college sports through the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a more dubious than once thought.
The Midwest Conference — a 10-member, NCAA Division III league with Wisconsin representatives Beloit College, Lawrence University, St. Norbert College and Ripon College — announced Monday it was suspending all conference play through 2020.
“We did everything we could over the past couple of months to develop schedules, event management protocols and testing policies so that we could compete this fall,” MWC Executive Director Heather Benning said. “However, due to the recent sustained surge of cases across the country, and a lack of guaranteed access to timely and reliable testing with the frequency recommended by the NCAA, the Conference does not feel it is in a position to sponsor intercollegiate athletic competition at this time.”
MWC cross country, football, soccer and women’s volleyball teams will have their schedules altered by the decision.
The testing protocols recommended by the NCAA earlier this month — which include athletes testing negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of playing high-risk sports in order to be eligible to play — present a challenge to smaller budget athletic department.
MWC student-athletes will be eventually allowed to practice, hold small-group training sessions and engage in strength and conditioning regiments, and MWC institutions can compete against non-conference teams if their leadership deems it safe.
The MWC’s release says it will decide on the fate of winter sports at a later date.
Five of the six D-III conferences with Wisconsin representatives have announced a scheduling model of only conference competition or postponing conference competition. The WIAC has not announced a decision yet, but has had a number of non-conference games across its sports canceled.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!