NESCAC, an NCAA Division III conference in the Northeastern United States, and the Savannah College of Art and Design have both canceled fall athletics competition. This moves them in line with a growing number of colleges and conferences that have made the same move, including significantly the Ivy League.
The move comes as individual campuses grapple with how to keep students safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which in many cases includes bringing back only a small portion of students to campus.
The NESCAC is following the lead of two of its member institutions, Bowdoin College in Maine and Williams College in Massachusetts, which in June announced that they would cancel all sports for the fall semester, which included the fall season of winter sports like swimming & diving.
The NESCAC presidents decided unanimously that all 11 colleges would follow that lead as it relates to competitions. The school is working on modifying some NESCAC rules to “enable coaches and students to engage in practice and training opportunities outside the traditional season.”
All 11 members of the NESCAC sponsor both men’s and women’s swimming & diving programs. Williams College are the defending conference champions on both sides of that equation.
The Ephs were seeded to score the 4th-most women’s points and the 6th-most men’s points at last year’s NCAA Division III Championship meet before that event was canceled as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Savannah College of Art & Design, which has its main campus in Savannah, Georgia, has notified student-athletes that there will be no competition in the fall quarter. The school has also ruled out any team or individual practices for the fall quarter as well.
The fall quarter begins on September 14 and runs through November 19, with the winter quarter beginning in the new year.
This comes in lockstep with an announcement by the school that almost all of its instruction will be virtual this season at both its Savannah and Atlanta campuses.
Both campuses host intercollegiate athletics; the swimming & diving program is based on the Savannah campus.
Only one class, PRO 540, will be taught in person. The 5 hour elective course is open to all students regardless of their majors.
While classes will be virtual, campus facilities will be open for students to use equipment, access labs, and access art studios. Because of the nature of the majors and specialties taught at SCAD, access to this equipment is a vital part of the education.
One of SCAD’s major challenges is that the campus is intertwined across the city of Savannah, which makes it difficult to contain students as compared to a more isolated campus.
An email sent to “artist-athletes,” as they’re referred to at SCAD, by athletics director Doug Wollenburg urged them to not read more into it than what was written and that the school does intend to restart its athletics programs in the future.
The email does say that “coaches won’t be working in the regular capacity.”
SCAD is a powerhouse team in swimming & diving in the NAIA. Last season, the SCAD women won the NAIA National Championship by 143.5 points over Keiser University. The SCAD men were 2nd, 62 points behind Keiser. For the SCAD women, that was a third-consecutive NAIA title and its fourth in five seasons.
That program is led by Bill Pilczuk. Pilczuk was a 3-time NCAA All-American at Auburn and the 1998 World Champion in the 50 free, among many other accolades. He placed 3rd in the 50 free at the 1996 US Olympic Trials and 4th at the 2000 US Olympic Trials, narrowly missing the Olympic Team both years.
Georgia has seen multiple records for new cases over the last 2 weeks, including 4,904 reported on Friday. Chatham County, where Savannah is located, was responsible for 98 of those new cases on Friday among a population of about 290,000.