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COLLEGE ATHLETICS: Big Sky Conference cancels spring sports

by From news services
| March 19, 2020 1:14 AM

Spring football practices suspended

Following a unanimous vote by its Presidents’ Council, the Big Sky Conference cancelled all of its competitions and championships for the remainder of the 2020 spring sports season, the conference office announced Wednesday.

In addition, practices and workouts for all teams in every Big Sky-sponsored sport have been suspended.

Idaho was scheduled to begin spring football practice March 30. The Vandals had already canceled their Silver and Gold spring game/scrimmage, slated for April 24.

Big Sky institutions retain the option to provide support services for their student-athletes while following national, state, and campus protocols for social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. These services may vary based on each institution’s circumstances and can include athletic training, academics, mental health, as well as other programming that is in the best interest of supporting the student-athletes.

“This is undoubtedly the proper decision for the health and well-being of all involved with the Big Sky, even though it certainly is disappointing for many of our student-athletes and coaches,” Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill said. “While play may be paused, we as a conference office and staff remain absolutely committed to supporting our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators every way possible during this unprecedented period in college athletics. We eagerly look forward to our teams returning to practice and competition when it’s deemed safe to resume those activities.”

Campus administrators will reconvene remotely before April 3 to determine the status of practices and workouts beyond that date.

The Presidents’ Council previously voted on March 12 to suspend competition for spring sports and to cancel the remainder of the 2020 Basketball Championships.

“While no one wanted to see the loss of a season, it proved to be the best decision for everyone involved,” Idaho athletic director Terry Gawlik said in a release. “Student-athletes who choose to return to campus will be allowed to utilize our open facilities, but on a volunteer basis only with no coaches or team equipment present. The conference will reassess the situation in the coming weeks.

“Our institution has made the decision to stay open, with classes being held online following spring break,” Gawlilk added. “All students will be welcome back to campus, should they choose to return, with the dorms and food service operations running, next weekend. Our Director of Student-Athlete Support Services, Krista Gray, and her staff will be hard at work adjusting to the new format. I have the utmost confidence in their ability to ensure the preparedness of our student-athletes in the classroom, regardless of where it’s located.

“Our athletic training facility will need to take extra precautions to ensure the health of our student-athletes,” she continued. “While Chris Walsh and his staff already do an excellent job in taking care of the needs of our more than 300 student-athletes, their extra efforts will go a long way in helping keep us all safe.”