COVID-19 claims UNK fall sports

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 11:25 AM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Central Nebraska lost more fall sports Friday.

The Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association announced that fall sports have been suspended until January 1.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney is an MIAA member.

In a statement issued Friday morning, the MIAA said in part. “The Association will continue to explore the possibility of a limited number of competitions in football, volleyball, men’s soccer, and women’s soccer in the spring, as permitted by the NCAA.”

“The health and well-being of MIAA student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and our communities continues to be the Association’s top priority,” stated President Steve Scott of Pittsburg State University, chairperson of the MIAA CEO Council. “The MIAA is taking these important actions today to help our athletic departments comply with these new NCAA membership requirements, and to assist our campuses as we continue to address this public health crisis.”

UNK sports affected are football, volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country. Women’s golf and women’s tennis, in their non-championship season, are also affected as all fall sports are suspended until Jan. 1. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is permitting the sport of women’s swimming and diving to compete first semester. The UNK Aqualopers are an affiliate member of the RMAC.

“Today’s announcement to postpone the fall season was obviously a difficult decision and one not made lightly,” UNK Athletic Director Marc Bauer said. “Our primary responsibility is always to do what’s right and what’s in the best interest of our students and staff, community and those associated with our athletics programs. We care deeply about our students, and this is painful for everyone who has been working for them.

“I am most proud of our coaches and staff and their efforts to help them have a successful year. I have also been encouraged by the leadership from the MIAA conference commissioner, Mike Racy. His team helped lead the original charge in Division II to delay the fall start and not make a quick decision to end things early, as many of the conferences had done.”

“The persistence of COVID cases in our MIAA communities and the potential for undue risk of exposure to our campus and community are relevant factors that have led to an informed decision by our campus administrators,” Bauer said. “The conference’s decision to suspend the fall season for sports comes after the recent announcement from the NCAA, which allows our teams more flexibility for structure around athletics-related activities, such as practices and meetings. We are encouraged by the decision because it will enable our coaches to continue to stay connected and engaged with our student-athletes in meaningful ways. Our focus is on our student-athletes and our communities, and without college sports, I am concerned about how this will affect those who are directly involved and connected with Loper Athletics.”

All UNK teams, along with the rest of the MIAA, were prohibited from holding any type of practice (in-season or out-of-season), weight training, meetings, film sessions or voluntary workouts. Those restrictions are now lifted for all sports, provided each institution’s ability to comply with the Aug. 11 NCAA Policy Clarifications document regarding the requirements for each division to conduct fall sports (non-competition) activities.

The Lopers will announce practice times for fall sports at a later date. They will be “out-of-season” and thus allowed eight hours of meetings/practices a week.

UNK Sports Medicine will continue its daily screening process for all student-athletes who plan to take part in any type of workout using on-campus facilities. Those policies and procedures have been in place since the start of voluntary workouts on June 1.

The MIAA will delay a decision on the winter sports competition schedule until October 1 at the latest. “The MIAA CEO Council will continue to monitor this fluid and evolving situation for college athletics, and make necessary changes to this plan per updated NCAA guidance and restrictions,” added Mike Racy.

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