Gannon fall sports suspended

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) announced this week that it would suspend all fall conference athletic events and championships in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


In a Tuesday decision by the PSAC’s Board of Directors, it was also announced that both the PSAC and Gannon University will shift all fall sporting events and championships to the spring semester with more details to be announced later.


PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray said the entire conference had been gearing up for the return of fall sports.


“However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members,” Murray said in a statement posted on the PSAC website.


“We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body. Despite our planning and collective efforts, it has become clear that we are not able to do so.”
Despite there being no PSAC competition this fall, student-athletes will have the ability to practice and condition following previously established university guidelines.


In the statement, university President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., said that while the university is disappointed there won’t be competitive sports this fall, it will continue to be there for its student-athletes and their well-being.


“Athletics is a part of our Gannon culture and fuels our well-being,” Taylor said. “And though PSAC intercollegiate competition isn’t going to happen this fall, we will support our student-athletes’ participation in controlled workouts throughout the fall in keeping with the PSAC and NCAA guidelines.”


Gannon has been formulating a return plan for athletics since March, including establishing protocols for safe resumption of activities.


With student-athletes returning to campus next week, the plan has been released, and will include safety protocols such as daily health screenings, COVID-19 testing, “pod” systems for athletics activities, social distancing at practices and PPE equipment for athletic personnel and athletic training personnel.


Brian Nichols, Gannon’s vice president for Student Development and Engagement, said the university was confident in its plan.


“We will be ready to return to competition as soon as the opportunity becomes available,” Nichols said. “It’s unfortunate for our student-athletes, and their avid supporters, that they won’t have that chance to compete with other PSAC schools this fall.”

Students-athletes reacted to the plans with perspectives on how this will affect their teams.


Brianna Phillips, a junior occupational therapy major who also is a member of the competitive dance team, said the return plan will factor into how often the team can practice.


However, Phillips said she agreed with the return plan.


“I personally think it was probably a good idea,” Phillips said. “I know the numbers are going up and it’s smart to keep not only the athletes but the coaches and staff safe as well.”


Phillips said she thinks it’s too early to say what the spring semester will look like.


Max Zimmerman, a junior physical therapy major who is a member of the baseball team, said that the normal baseball season will be impacted.


“We normally have a full fall season,” Zimmerman said. “It’s going to put a huge limit on readiness of new players and returners. No fall games or scrimmages are going to affect the spring greatly.”


Further updates will be provided by Gannon as they become available.



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