It wasn’t much of surprise Wednesday morning when the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) cancelled its fall sports season.
Speculation regarding an announcement was rampant on social media Tuesday night, and PSAC athletes were told several weeks ago to expect changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We knew it was coming,” Selinsgrove graduate and Bloomsburg University quarterback Logan Leiby said. “We had a meeting with (athletic director Dr. Michael McFarland), and he said we’d probably only play our conference games this season about a month ago.”
“We got an email about a month ago that we’d only be playing 18 games — not play any out-of-conference games and no preseason scrimmages,” said Mifflinburg graduate Hailey Foresman, a soccer player at Shippensburg University. “I wasn’t really surprised (when it was cancelled), but I really tried to keep my hopes up.”
The PSAC consists of Bloomsburg University, California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University, East Stroudsburg University, Edinboro University, Gannon University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown University, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Mercyhurst University, Millersville University, The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Seton Hill University, Shepherd University, Shippensburg University, Slippery Rock University and West Chester University.
The board of directors of the PSAC voted on Tuesday to suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the pandemic. According to a press release, the conference has already undertaken a full review of its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester, and fully intends to do so if a return to competition can be safely executed.
“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said. “However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members. We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body. Despite our planning and collective efforts, it has become clear that we are not able to do so.”
The key to the PSAC’s statement is the effort to move its fall sports to the spring, pending approval by the NCAA, which gives both Leiby and Foresman hope.
“At least we might be able to have some kind of a season,” said Foresman, a sophomore defender for the Red Raiders. “It makes me feel a little better. Hopefully it has cleared up a bit by then.”
“Even seven or eight games in the spring is better than nothing,” Leiby said.
Like the PSAC’s spring athletes who lost their 2020 seasons, Foresman and Leiby are disappointed the hard work and preparation for the upcoming season may have been for naught.
“Speaking for myself, I lift all the time, and I’m up at Vaportrail (a speed-training facility in Bloomsburg),” Leiby said. “It’s disappointing not be able to show off the results of that work.”
“I mean, it’s frustrating,” Foresman said. “We’ve had a summer workout packet and trained hard all summer, (and now) to have it all put on hold.”
The cancellation of the fall sports also brings up the liklihood of online classes for the fall. East Stroudsburg and West Chester have made the decision go online. Shippensburg hasn’t made that decision, but Foresman thinks one is coming.
“I’m assuming we’ll be doing everything online,” Foresman said. “We’ve already looked at some of our classes on the school’s website and they are already online.”
It’s not something Foresman enjoys.
“I really prefer the face-to-face interaction,” she said. “I guess I have to adapt again.”
Another online semester is a problem for Leiby, as well. He’s far enough along in his education major that he was planning to be in a grade school classroom for observation.
“It would be easier to do that stuff face-to-face,” Leiby said. “On the other hand, I think the all athletic GPAs went up went we went online (in the spring).”