The USA South Presidents Council recently voted unanimously to postpone fall sports competition. With the safety of student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, and other athletics staff at the forefront, Meredith’s fall sports of volleyball, soccer, and cross country will shift to spring 2021.
The decision to postpone was made in light of several factors, including the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases throughout the USA South’s geographical footprint. Other major factors include the availability, cost, and feasibility of adequate and consistent testing for student-athletes. The NCAA’s most recent guidelines for the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport included pre-competition testing, as well as other cost prohibitive and time-challenging testing strategies.
“As a firm believer in the extensive benefits of athletics, I am eager to see our athletes taking a leadership role in building the character of our community by being good role models and persuasive teachers about what team spirit really means as they exercise both personal and community responsibility for desired outcomes,” said Meredith College President Jo Allen. “In this sense, that outcome—winning—is truly about the health and well-being of all, and our student-athletes and their coaches and trainers know how to lead with integrity and insight.”
With new flexibility offered by the NCAA, student-athletes will still have an opportunity to practice and train during the fall semester, while following college and state mandates and guidelines. Coaches, athletic trainers, and other athletics staff will shift planning towards new and creative ways to keep student-athletes engaged, healthy, and fit, while providing a positive athletic experience.
“While this has been a difficult decision for our conference presidents,” said Athletic Director Jackie Myers, “I do feel it is the right one at the present moment. We don’t want our athletes to miss out on opportunities to compete, but we do want them and all of our staff to be safe.”
The athletic conference leadership will now shift focus to men’s and women’s basketball, while considering spring sports. Decisions will remain dependent on public health mandates, NCAA guidelines, and trends of the pandemic.