In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, NESCAC, a conference in the Northeastern US that includes some of the best swimming programs in Division III, has canceled conference competition, including conference championships, for the winter season. Several of the conference’s institutions have canceled all competition in winter sports.
While the announcement does not preclude conference institutions from scheduling competition with other NESCAC or non-conference opponents, at least one school says that it’s “highly unlikely” that winter season teams will compete this year.
“Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely our winter season teams will compete this year,” an FAQ posted by Bowdoin College says. “Factors influencing this determination include ongoing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, increasingly stringent NCAA safety and testing guidelines governing indoor competition, current restrictions governing indoor athletic activity in the State of Maine, potential limitations on access to athletic facilities in order to support the academic program and considerable restrictions on group travel. We will continue to review these issues and NCAA, CDC and State of Maine safety guidelines on a sport-by-sport basis in the weeks ahead, but for planning purposes, winter season athletes should not anticipate competing during the spring semester.”
The school also says that it’s “unlikely” that it’s spring teams will compete this year too, though not out of the question. Bodwoin says that if competition is able to resume, priority will be given to spring season sports, saying that it’s also “unlikely” that fall sports teams will compete during the spring semester.
Bowdoin does anticipate that student-athletes will be able to train on campus in the spring.
Other schools have made similar decisions about winter sports. Amherst, Hamilton, Middlebury, and Williams, for example, have announced the cancellation of all winter sports.
Schools’ Individual Statements on 2020-2021 Winter Sports, including swimming & diving:
- Amherst College – canceled
- Bates College – no elaboration
- Bowdoin College – “highly unlikely”
- Colby College – no elaboration
- Connecticut College – canceled
- Hamilton College – canceled
- Middlebury College – canceled
- Trinity College – no elaboration
- Tufts University – no elaboration
- Wesleyan University – no elaboration
- Williams College – canceled
The most recent NCAA Division III Championship meet, which was held in 2019, saw 2 NESCAC schools finish in the top 8 finishers of the women’s meet. Williams placed 4th, and Amherst placed 8th.
The men’s meet also saw both of those programs in the top 10, with Williams 7th and Amherst 9th.
Full Conference Release:
With the fall semester for NESCAC institutions well underway, the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the broader community remain our foremost concerns. Our institutions have limited travel off campus, restricted visitors to campus, and implemented strict protocols on physical distancing. To further mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and protect the well-being of those on campus and in the surrounding communities, each of our institutions is conducting a robust COVID-19 testing program.
In addition to these measures, many of our institutions have made or are considering significant modifications to the 2020-21 academic calendar. As a result, many of our students will not return to campus for the spring semester until late January or early February.
Given these institutional policies and calendar changes, the NESCAC Presidents have unanimously decided to cancel NESCAC conference competition, including conference championships, for the winter season. Among other things, the timing of students’ return to campus means there will not be enough time to conduct meaningful conference play.
We understand this decision will disappoint many of our students, given the important role athletics plays in the student experience. We remain committed to providing meaningful opportunities for our students to engage in athletic activities. Students may continue to participate in practice activities, strength and conditioning, skill development and leadership programming in accordance with NCAA, Conference and institutional policies, as well as state and local health guidelines. Institutions may schedule outside competition at their discretion.
Planning continues for the possibility of spring competition and updated information will be provided as it becomes available.
Biddy Martin, Amherst College
Clayton Spencer, Bates College
Clayton Rose, Bowdoin College
David Greene, Colby College
Katherine Bergeron, Connecticut College
David Wippman, Hamilton College
Laurie Patton, Middlebury College
Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Trinity College
Tony Monaco, Tufts University
Michael Roth, Wesleyan University
Maud Mandel, Williams College