Jason Trufant

COVID-19 has impacted the sporting world in proportions never before seen. From small colleges and universities to large, from NCAA Division I all the way down to youth sports, its uncertainty has dismantled our normal processes and procedures to the point where our "new normal" is changing every day. We are constantly adjusting and creating new safety methods to place the health and safety of each member of the Owls family at the very forefront of our daily operations. Make no mistake, elite health and safety standards have always been and will continue to be a driving force in our athletic program. However, this current world-wide pandemic has stretched the boundaries of intercollegiate sports from a wellbeing standpoint to the limit, with no clear end or answer in sight.

In this athletic department, we have three daily ideals for our staff that we try to uphold. When making decisions we ask ourselves:

1. Does it make sense for the student-athlete?
2. Does it make sense for the budget philosophy?
3. Does it make sense for The W as a whole and the entire athletic department?

Any "no" answer usually guides us in the right path, as it has here.

On August 20, 2020, the NCAA Division III Administrative Committee released a recommendation that member schools cease competition for the Fall 2020 semester in an effort to avoid the potential of increased health and safety risks. "Any competition this term in the current environment will increase the health and safety risks of not only our student-athletes, but also coaches, staff and campus communities," said Tori Murden McClure, chair of the Presidents Council and president at Spalding.

In an effort to follow the pathway presented by our national governing body, along with following state, federal and NCAA guidelines, Owls Athletics has decided to postpone competition for the 2020 season for all fall sports. These include, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, and volleyball. All members of these sports will be permitted to continue practicing and training following NCAA bylaws and rules, but will not be participating against outside competition during the fall 2020 semester.

Continued monitoring and testing when needed will occur throughout the semester to ensure we are placing each student-athlete, coach, and administrator in the most healthy and safe environment possible. Student-athletes have already been provided information on our specific return to sport protocols and will continue to receive information on NCAA legislation and procedures.

It is important to realize that this decision is the beginning of the next steps forward for Owls Athletics. Our focus has and always will be on the long-term success of each and every sport both athletically and academically. By securing the most healthy and safe environment possible here on campus, we are providing excellent instruction and guidance while not knowingly placing risk on each participant by limiting opportunities for outside play. Eligibility can be preserved and we will focus on providing a meaningful experience for all student-athletes and participants in the semesters ahead. Our job is to educate and lead.

 

Jason Trufant
Director of Athletics & Recreation