Empire 8 postpones all fall competition in 9 sports for 2020 season


(WSYR-TV) — The Empire 8 conference’s Presidents Council has voted unanimously to postpone fall competition in nine sports, including football, for the 2020 season.

This includes SUNY Cortland’s football team, the Red Dragons. The team was scheduled to play six Empire 8 games in the fall.

Two of the team’s scheduled non-league games have already been canceled due to Washington & Lee University and The College of New Jersey canceling their seasons.

Cortland had also been scheduled to play non-league games at Buffalo State and at home versus Ithaca in the Cortaca Jug rivalry game, but both of those games have been canceled as well.

Although we all knew this was a scenario that could play out for fall sports and football, and especially with a lot of the recent announcements coming out, it still stings quite a bit to have to officially say and know that there will not be a season. My heart really goes out to the players and the staff. That said, we will focus on what we can do, whatever that ends up being. Ultimately, we will get as ready as we can for the future. We still plan on staying engaged and creating an opportunity for these young men to take part in some form of activity that they love to be a part of.

Cortland Director of Athletics Mike Urtz

This also affects SUNY Morrisville, who is also an affiliate member of Empire 8.

We support the difficult decision that the Empire 8 has made to postpone fall competition and understand the need to be cognizant of the risks that susceptible populations face in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are hoping that as the spring season approaches, Empire 8 football will be in a position to put forward a meaningful and successful season of competition for our student-athletes.

Interim Athletic Director Todd Kleinhans

See the full statement from the Empire 8 league office below:

“Empire 8 member institutions have been working since the advent of COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of all members of our respective communities, including our student-athletes, as we anticipate reopening our campuses this fall.  The league adopted the NCAA Guidelines for the Resocialization of Sport, developed a detailed Pandemic Protocol Handbook and approved modified schedules for the season.

However, the continued evolution of the virus has presented significant new challenges for safe athletics competition.  As such, the Empire 8 Presidents Council has unanimously voted to postpone all fall competition in the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball.  Individual Empire 8 institutions continue to have the ability to engage in athletic-related activity this fall to provide beneficial opportunities for their student-athletes and teams in accordance with local health policy. 

The Empire 8 is committed to providing all fall student-athletes with a meaningful conference regular season and championship tournament experience in the spring of 2021 provided it is safe to do so.  We are currently developing models and conference schedules to prepare for a successful experience. The health and wellness of our athletes and our campus communities will continue to be a top priority as we finalize those plans.

Decisions surrounding winter sports competition will be made at a later time. We will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.”

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