By Tim Clark, Director Of Sports Information & Marketing
SEGUIN, Texas - The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, Texas Lutheran University's conference for 15 of its 18 intercollegiate sports, announced with its Presidents Council on Thursday that NCAA intercollegiate competition will not occur during the Fall 2020 season due to health and safety concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In discussions that included a review of public health guidance and safety standards as well as NCAA Re-socialization recommendations, the SCAC Presidents Council unanimously agreed that conference teams in the sports of cross country, soccer and volleyball will not engage in competition (conference or non-conference) during the fall season. This includes sports such as golf and tennis that utilize the fall for non-traditional activities.
Of its 18 NCAA Division III sports programs, TLU has three sports that do not play in the SCAC. The three sports are: football, men's indoor track & field, and women's indoor track & field.
Football competes in the American Southwest Conference, and the men's and women's indoor track & field teams compete as independents. No decision has been made yet by the ASC or TLU with regard to football in the fall of 2020.
TLU's men's and women's indoor track & field teams generally start indoor competitions in January. A decision on indoor track & field competitions by the Bulldogs will be made at a later date.
“I am, of course, extremely disappointed that our fall sports are being impacted by the ongoing pandemic," said TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell. "At the same time, I have every confidence in our coaches and athletics staff and know they will work with these student-athletes to ensure a good experience this fall in preparation for competition this spring. And I know that throughout these challenges, our Bulldog spirit will be strong.”
Teams will be encouraged, as health and safety conditions allow, to conduct conditioning, strength training and other practice opportunities during the fall semester.
"I am very saddened by this unfortunate situation because it does affect the quality of the athletic experience of our student-athletes," said Bill Miller, TLU's director of athletics. "However, providing a safe environment for our student-athletes to practice and compete is critically important. The SCAC Presidents Council and the SCAC's directors of athletics have been involved in developing a plan for the fall competition for several weeks. We no longer believe that plan can be safely executed."
"We need to do what is in the best interest of all of our student-athletes and coaches. The pandemic environment has gotten to a point, where the only safe pathway forward is to try to develop a plan to compete in the spring. I tremendously respect the leadership that SCAC Commissioner Dwayne Hanberry, TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell, and all the SCAC Presidents have provided during this very challenging and difficult time."
The SCAC announced it is committed to exploring meaningful competitive experiences for all fall sport student-athletes, including the possibility of conducting fall sport competition and championships during the spring semester.
"Collegiate athletics are key pillars of the student experience at SCAC institutions," said Trinity University President Danny Anderson, chair of the SCAC Presidents Council. "With this decision, SCAC institutions will gradually re-socialize our sport programs to campus with the goal of safe competition and a return to regular conference play."
On March 23, the SCAC announced the cancellation of all spring 2020 conference competitions and championships.
"Not unlike the decision we had to make this past spring, today's decision was difficult and not taken lightly," said Hanberry. "At the very least, it is extremely frustrating to be forced to continue the suspension of competition this fall. After putting together a COVID-19 Task Force made up of administrators from each member institution, we thought we had landed on a reasonable plan for re-socialization that would have allowed for measured increases of athletic activities upon the arrival of our student-athletes coming out of summer break."
"However, with recent spikes in cases, especially within our footprint, the decision to suspend competition for fall sports during the fall semester and allow our campuses to focus on the health and safety of all students within a structured environment became the logical outcome."
Decisions related to winter and spring sport competition will be made at a later date.
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Presidents Council
Steven O'Day, Austin College
Christopher Holoman, Centenary College
Mike Edmonds, Colorado College
Thomas Hibbs, University of Dallas
Charlie McCormick, Schreiner University
Laura Trombley, Southwestern University
Richard Ludwick, University of St. Thomas
Debbie Cottrell, Texas Lutheran University
Danny Anderson, Trinity University