The University of Delaware has suspended all fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it will try to move some of them into spring 2021.
That announcement Friday said the sports include football, cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, rowing, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s golf.
A press release from the school said it will opportunities to create a competitive season for the fall sports programs during the spring of 2021.
“These are certainly unprecedented and challenging times and this decision was an incredibly difficult one to make,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Chrissi Rawak said in the release. “We also know that we have so many loyal supporters that bleed Blue and Gold. However, to mitigate risk and compete in a safe and healthy environment, ultimately this was a decision that needed to be made.
“We will do everything we can to give our student-athletes and coaches an opportunity to compete for the University of Delaware as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
The university’s Newark campus was ground zero when the coronavirus showed up in Delaware, with instructors and students the first to be diagnosed with a positive case. UD closed its campus and moved to online classes to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. It announced a few weeks ago that its fall semester will be a mix of online classes for large groups and in-person classes for some courses with smaller enrollment.
Delaware’s emergency stay-at-home order, which closed a lot of business, slowed the spread, but it picked up steam this spring and summer as people began to get out of their houses. An outbreak at Delaware beaches was caught and aggressively tested for, but it was largely among young people who were not wearing masks or following social distance guidelines.
One of the alarming things about the testing, health officials said, is that 60 percent of the people who test positive have no symptoms and don’t know that they could be spreading it to vulnerable people.
UD’s decision follows by 24 hours an announcement that Delaware State University in Dover said it is suspending fall sports under the guidelines of its conference. Its release said that officials are hoping for shortened seasons of some kind.
The University of Delaware said that if student-athletes choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19, their scholarship will still be honored and they will remain in good standing with their team for this academic year.
While the entire Colonial Athletic Conference did not make a collective decision on sports outside of football, UD officials felt it was necessary.
“We believe that this is the right decision for us,” the press release said.
There were several peer institutions competing in the CAA Conference that have made the same decision to suspend fall sports competition.
In alignment with local and state guidelines, UD will also continue with voluntary workout participation that is currently taking place, as permitted to do so per the NCAA.
Decisions on winter sports and their competitive season will be made at a later date.