This year’s spring sports at Kentucky Wesleyan College were over before they ever really got off the ground.
Following a directive issued by the Great Midwest Athletic Conference on Friday, all remaining athletic competitions and championships for the 2019-20 school year have been canceled, effective immediately, due to the heightened concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All team-related activities are suspended through April 6, and after that, Wesleyan can review and implement processes at their discretion to resume team activities — such as practices or other team meetings — in accordance with NCAA guidelines.
The Great Midwest Presidents Council voted unanimously to suspend play “in the best interest of protecting the student-athletes and the entirety of the campus communities,” the league said in a release.
Though the decision didn’t come as a shock to Wesleyan athletic director Rob Mallory, it did present a situation that no one could have imagined just mere weeks ago.
“Those decisions were certainly made for the right reasons, but that doesn’t make their reality any less of a punch in the gut,” Mallory said in a Twitter post. “My heart breaks for our spring sport student-athletes, especially our seniors.”
However, the season isn’t totally lost.
The NCAA Division II Administrative Committee announced Saturday two new rules that will go into effect immediately — a recruiting dead period in all sports that will last until at least April 15 and, more importantly, season of competition waivers that will allow student-athletes to retain the year of eligibility they would’ve used during the spring.
“I applaud the Division II Administrative Committee for acting swiftly to give impacted student-athletes their eligibility back,” Mallory said, “and we will work quickly to get student-athletes the information they need to make the best decisions for their future.”
The cancellation of all NCAA sporting events was delivered Thursday, when the NCAA opted to nix its Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring championships.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.
In the meantime, though, Mallory said he’s been encouraged by the way the Wesleyan community has responded.
“I want to thank our athletic department staff and coaches for going above and beyond these past few days in making care for our student-athletes the focus of every action and decision we made,” he said. “In times of crisis, the ideals of The Wesleyan Way and ONE TEAM are more important than ever, and by keeping those at the forefront, we will make it through this together.”