SVU Fall Sports Postponed

W&L, Other ODAC Schools Eye Spring Schedule

With the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington and Lee University and all other Old Dominion Athletic Conference schools will not be participating in sports this fall.

The ODAC, which includes W&L sports and SVU football, announced on Tuesday of last week that it was postponing its fall sports until the spring semester. Earlier in the day, the Capital Athletic Conference, which includes the other SVU fall sports, announced it was postponing the fall seasons for soccer, women’s volleyball, field hockey and cross country. The fall golf season is still on at this point.

Prior to last Tuesday’s announcement, W&L had announced on July 10, 11 days earlier, that it would not take part in any athletic competitions this fall semester.

After W&L’s announcement, W&L Director of Athletics Jan Hathorn said, "The university and the athletics department have been working tirelessly to prepare for a return to some semblance of routine and the sports we love, while keeping the health and safety of our student-athletes as the top priority.”

“As information regarding the transmission of the COVID-19 virus was continuously analyzed, university administration determined the most effective way to mitigate risk of exposure to our campus community was to restrict travel and visitors to campus, making it necessary to suspend competition for the fall semester,” Hathorn continued. “We realize that nothing can replace the joy of competition; however, our coaches, staff and administrators are committed to creating the best student-athlete experience possible, while upholding our commitment to the health and safety of the studentathletes. We will work through this adversity together and be a stronger team as a result."

Prior to the ODAC’s decision last Tuesday, W&L head football coach Garrett LeRose said on Monday, “Our focus is to maintain an interest in football. … We’re going to be patient and see what guidelines we get from the NCAA to allow us to be safe.”

“In our team meeting, it’s going to be a grieving process,” LeRose added. “Guys are working through that exploring options. Guys are waiting to extend their careers. Football is a part of that. They’re going to continue to work with us and the staff.”

LeRose said he and his staff would stay in touch with the players and take their time in making a plan to return to workouts when the time is right, and he encouraged players to continue working out on their own.

At SVU, athletic director and vice president Deidra Dryden sent out a letter to the SVU community last Tuesday and expressed her hopes that the affected fall sports teams will be able to compete during the spring semester. In its announcement last Tuesday, the CAC said it would exploring in the coming months shifting fall sports to the spring.

Dryden said postponing fall sports “will help prevent and minimize exposure to COVID-19 across our campus – and therefore it is the right thing for us to do as studentathletes and good citizens of our campus community.”

“We support these proactive steps taken by our conference partners to protect student-athletes and campus communities and, while nothing is certain in this ‘new normal,’ we fully expect – and are already working with our conference partners – to resume regular competitions for the affected fall sports in the upcoming spring 2021 semester,” Dryden wrote. “Based on the tremendous current pace of medical research and development, we are optimistic about the future, and expect in the next few months to see important advances in COVID-19 testing technology, treatments, and vaccines that can all have a major positive impact for restarting athletics early next year.”

Dryden added that offseason practices for the postponed fall sports will take place in the fall. “That means competitive practices, inter-squad scrimmages, strength training, and team building activities for these sports will happen in the fall semester and will be more important than ever. In other words, the fall will provide a unique opportunity for teams and student-athletes to improve and prepare to compete in the spring – and to get ready for our best athletic year ever!”

Without the typical demanding fall athletic schedules, Dryden said, the fall semester “will allow studentathletes to focus completely on their academics.” She encouraged studentathletes to “keep your plans to attend school this fall, where you will improve yourself through education, learn from our amazing professors in small, safe classes, and continue progressing toward graduation.

“We’ll need to be resourceful, think outside the box, and all work together this fall – but those are things we do best. In many ways, athletics is about developing character as much as any physical abilities. This global pandemic is a unique opportunity to come together as a community to protect each other and showcase the toughness, grit and determination we have worked hard to develop in our athletic endeavors. This will be a semester unlike any other, and we invite all of you to come participate on our campus as we work to make this one of the safest places you could possibly be for the next few months.”

Neither Virginia Military Institute nor its conference, the Southern Conference, has made an announcement about postponing fall sports. The VMI-Princeton game scheduled to take place on Sept. 19 at Foster Stadium was canceled earlier this month after the Ivy League announced it will suspend all sports competition for its member institutions for the fall semester.

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