The National Junior College Athletics Association Board of Regents approved an updated plan of action regarding fall sports, which includes moving athletic competition to the spring.
NJCAA officials announced on Monday the decision for the 2020-2021 school year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Close-contact sports like football, men’s and women’s soccer, and court volleyball will be shifted into the spring season.
This decision will effect all junior colleges in all divisions, including Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton. Athletic Director Matt Parker said he knew this course of action was being put on the table.
"We’ve been in contact knowing that was going to be voted on today. We had seen two or three different versions of the draft,” Parker said. "It wasn’t a surprise, it just had to be official.”
In addition to moving fall sports, winter sports like men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and swimming, will have their starts pushed back into January. Championship seasons for those sports will accordingly be moved from March into April.
Spring sports such as baseball, softball, and track and field will remain as scheduled, with possible adjustments to be made to ease any potential scheduling conflicts with the moved sports from the fall.
Parker said he and the rest of Eastern’s coaching staffs have been working daily and coordinating with others to ensure player safety upon return to play. Now with Monday’s decision, Parker said it gives those fall sports, as well as the others, a little bit of hope.
"We’ve now bought another six months to know what the world looks like before we play for these championships,” he said.
In a press release, NJCAA President and CEO Dr. Christopher Parker stressed the organizations commitment to keeping student-athletes safe and adapting to the changing environment.
"Our greatest focus is and always has been providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes," Parker, "Through a unified effort from our Presidential Advisory Council, the Board of Regents, and leadership staff, our most recent plan of action provides a path that keeps our student-athletes competing at the highest level with proper safety measures in place. As we move forward as an association, we will continue to provide opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and all those involved with the NJCAA to be safe and successful.”
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