MORRISVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On Friday, the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Presidents’ Council announced that the winter conference competition and championships in men’s’ and women’s basketball would be cancelled, citing the rising health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the NEAC include SUNY Morrisville and Wells College.
“This has been a year of difficult decisions and I know how important athletics is to our students and our communities,” President David E. Rogers said. “I know this is the right course of action to keep everyone safe and healthy, and we are optimistic about coming through these challenges to return to competition in the foreseeable future.”
Given the current state of the ongoing pandemic and its challenges to facilitate competition in the future, the announcement comes taking into consideration three main elements:
1. Community spread and positivity rates are increasing in our local communities and anticipated to continue doing so following the winter holidays.
2. Challenges still exist around access to testing, affordable testing, and turnaround time for results to meet NCAA recommendations of testing student-athletes and staff multiple times a week for a high-risk transmission indoor sport such as basketball.
3. With a conference membership that spans throughout multiple states, current state and local travel restrictions do not allow for a geographically diverse conference such as the NEAC to commit to a conference schedule that requires crossing state lines and potential overnight trips.
“With this decision, we are acting in the best interest of health and safety for our students, faculty, staff, and local community,” Interim Athletic Director Todd Kleinhans said. “With the hopes of a vaccine approval and distribution in the very near future, we look forward to a time where our student-athletes are once again able to play the sports that led them to SUNY Morrisville and allow them to safely compete as Mustangs again.”
“We know our coaches and students are disappointed, as is the entire campus community,” stated Mary Bonderoff, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer. “We will evaluate options moving forward to engage our students in the safest manner possible.”
The NEAC will continue to evaluate local, state, and federal health guidelines, as well as NCAA recommendations for a safe return to play for its member institutions. A decision regarding spring sports will be made at a later date.