The University of New Hampshire announced on Friday that none of its fall sports teams — football, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country — will compete in intercollegiate athletics during the upcoming semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release issued by the UNH, Director of Athletics Marty Scarano said the university and its league partners — America East and Colonial Athletic Association — will “embark immediately on pursuing the feasibility of moving the fall sport programs to a spring season.” The decision on whether or not winter sports like basketball and hockey will start their seasons in the late fall as they normally do will come later.
“For months, we have worked diligently alongside our campus and league partners to establish safe protocols and practices that would protect our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the greater community,” Scarano said. “As of the last few weeks it has become obvious that the trend line and scientific data indicates the virus is not under control and continues to present a significant risk.”
The school will honor all athletic scholarships for the 2020-21 school year and student-athletes will also have an extra season of eligibility, as recently legislated by the NCAA.
UNH is still discussing a phased approach for student-athletes to return to practice and training. That approach will follow CDC and State of New Hampshire guidelines, as well as UNH’s Student-Facing Services Reopening Team protocols.
“Once classes commence and the established (university-wide, re-socialization) safety protocols are satisfied, the athletes will be allowed to practice and work out under the strict auspices of federal, state and university standards,” Scarano said.
UNH is just the latest New Hampshire college to have its fall sports impacted by the coronavirus. The Ivy League, which includes Dartmouth, canceled all of its fall 2020 sports last week.
On Thursday, the Council of Presidents of the Northeast-10 Conference — which includes Southern New Hampshire University, Saint Anselm and Franklin Pierce — voted unanimously to suspend all conference-sponsored competition through Dec. 31. The time frame covers the entire schedule for the conference’s fall teams (football, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country) as well as the beginning of the winter 2020-21 schedule.
The NE 10 is hoping to have its fall teams play in spring 2021, and to have an amended winter and normal spring schedule, but only if it’s safe to do so. Like UNH, the NE 10 conference schools will honor their athletic aid agreements with student-athletes throughout the 2020-21 academic year.
“I would like to express how truly sorry and disappointed I am that our fall and winter athletes won’t start their seasons as we had all hoped for,” said Dr. Kim Mooney, the Franklin Pierce President and chair of the NE 10 Council of Presidents. “Ultimately, the postponement was the only responsible decision our Council could make in order to protect the health and well-being of student-athletes and staff across the NE 10.”