With the spring semester now in full swing, SUNY athletes will finally have the chance to take the field.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced on February 23 that the State University of New York Athletic Commission (SUNYAC) is cleared to resume activities starting on March 20.
The sports that will have full seasons include track and field, lacrosse, baseball, softball and tennis.
The plans for the upcoming spring season state that conferences will be split into East/West regions to limit travel and overnight stays. Masks will be worn at all times by athletes, coaches and officials except for athletes during competition or practice. No spectators will be allowed in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidance.
Prior to competition, there will be regular weekly testing/COVID symptom checks. Prior to road games, athletes will be tested within three days of departure. Rules mandate that there will be no eating on buses and masks will be worn for travel. Bus capacity will be reduced to 50 percent. As for post game activities, there will be no handshakes, group celebrations or pre- or post-interaction with opposing teams.
This news comes after Malatras sent a letter to SUNYAC on January 20 asking for the commission to begin drawing up plans for a restart. Over the past month, the league discussed with more than 50 delegates including campus presidents, athletic directors, coaches, and health experts to develop a plan.
“The pandemic has kept our student athletes off the playing field for too long, but thanks to the great work and effort of SUNYAC Commissioner DiCamillo, our campus presidents, the SUNYAC leadership, athletic directors, coaches, and our athletes, we’ve developed a workable plan to resume athletic competition at SUNY,” said Malatras.
Back in August, there was a push by student athletes to get sports restarted in a safe way and to adhere to guidelines. They used #WeWantToPlay to get their message across and layed out the plans that would make a season possible for fall and spring sports.
The spring sports that have been approved to return to play are considered intermediate and low risk under the new plan and will take place outdoors. The plan also includes that if there is a rise in COVID-19 positivity rates, there could be pause or delay in competition.
Along with the plan, SUNY also unveiled a new campaign called #MaskUpSUNY and released a video from SUNY Brockport. The campaign will feature SUNYAC student athletes as they get ready for the upcoming season.
“We know this wasn’t an easy decision, and my teammates and I are thankful and beyond excited,” said SUNY Oswego outfielder Myles Felton, a senior on the school’s baseball team. “This is what we have dedicated so much of our time to do—compete. We are ready to play and will continue to do what we can to keep each other safe.”
Athletic directors have been told by the SUNYAC to come up with a plan for limited non-conference play. As of right now, the commission is not in favor of out-of-state contests, with the exception of NCAA Division ⅠⅠⅠ Championships.
“This plan has come together after consultation with SUNYAC presidents and experts across the campuses, as well as close partnership with our local health officials,” said SUNYAC Commissioner Tom DiCamillo. “It includes a thorough strategy to keep players, coaches, and personnel safe, and we are pleased to get the season started for more of our SUNYAC teams.”