The Summit League announced Tuesday it will delay the start of fall sports until Sept. 23 because of COVID-19 precautions.
Sports delayed include soccer, volleyball, cross country, golf and tennis, as well as non-traditional seasons for baseball and softball. The Summit League does not have football within conference competition.
Soccer and volleyball will have conference-only schedules because of the delay. The competitive schedule for cross country will be delayed until Sept. 23, as well as non-championship segments for golf and tennis.
The delay doesn’t affect any winter or spring sports. The announcement said decisions for those sports will be decided at a later date if necessary.
“I think it’s a good decision,” ORU athletic director Mike Carter said. “I just think that with all of the test results that are coming back nationwide and the information that we have, at this point, it would appear that it may be a little risky to be starting out at this point.
“By moving it back to (Sept. 23), it gives us time to get more information — find out more about testing, really — what testing is available in the Tulsa area, what it’s gonna cost, how long it’s gonna take to turn it around — all of those things. So we’re in favor of the pushback.”
ORU has a program in the Summit League for every sport affected by the announcement. However, unlike when universities miss out on football games, ORU won’t take a financial hit not hosting events for non-revenue sports, especially when travel is considered.
“Well, it’s going to save some money, but, frankly, I’m not as worried about the money as I am the well-being of the student-athletes,” Carter said. “There’s just been a lot of quarantine, a lot of them being concerned about, ‘Are we going to play, not gonna play?’
“I’m very proud of them and the way they finished their academics last year. We finished with the highest GPA our student-athletes have ever had with a 3.37, so they did a tremendous job there, but we need to get them back to normal activity as well as we can and as soon as we can.”
The delay means any previous schedules for the affected sports were erased. New schedules will be constructed and announced at a later date. Carter estimated that having no non-conference events canceled about one-third of the schedule for soccer and volleyball.
Moving fall sports into spring or winter could also be an option if circumstances force it.
“That’s a possibility,” Carter said. “I think it would put some stress on some schools like ours, because, from an administration standpoint, having to operate now volleyball and soccer games at the same time you’re going through men’s and women’s basketball and baseball — that’s a lot of games.”
Training and practices can continue, though, for fall sports as long as schools follow NCAA regulations, and local health and safety guidelines.
“I think everything will go back to normal,” Carter said. “But I do think that we will all have a much greater appreciation for our student-athletes and our coaches and everything that they have been through. This has been very difficult for them. Being away from their sports family, their athletic family has been difficult.”
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