NCAA

After Bowdoin College cancels fall sports, questions remain for Maryland, Virginia college sports

After Bowdoin College cancels fall sports, questions remain for Maryland, Virginia college sports

At least one Division III school in Maine is calling off the fall sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as universities across the country grapple with how and if students - and student-athletes should return to campus. 

Bowdoin College announced on Monday that it would not be participating in the fall NESCAC season. 

"This is one of the very disappointing outcomes of our plan," Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said in a statement. "Athletics is a central part of the Bowdoin experience for many of our students and for the College more generally. NESCAC has not yet determined what will happen with conference play or how coaches in this extraordinary semester may interact with athletes on fall, winter, and spring teams during the fall semester, but I am hopeful that there will be significant opportunities this fall for coaches to work with those athletes who are both on and off campus.

"Varsity athletes living on campus are likely to have in-person workout opportunities with coaches, but unfortunately, students living off campus will not be permitted to participate in on-campus workouts."

RELATED: HOW SOME NONREVENUE SPORTS FROM MID-MAJOR PROGRAMS ARE APPROACHING FALL SEASONS

Rose left the possibility open of returning to play in winter and spring sports. 

Across the college sports world, a number of Division I student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 across the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 schools. Earlier this month, the University of Maryland announced a return-to-facility plan for student-athletes which included wellness checks and a requirement to wear face masks. 

Other schools around the DMV - ranging from smaller Division III schools to the large Division I programs - are still working on their plans with everything constantly changing. But no one in this area has canceled their season. 
At Salisbury University in Maryland, athletic department spokesperson Cyrill Parham told NBC Sports Washington that the campus will be open in the fall with a hybrid of online and in-person classes."The athletic department is currently working through several different scenarios in order to help ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans," he wrote. "We haven’t made an official announcement regarding the status of athletics in the fall but we are trying to follow guidance from the CDC and the state of Maryland in order to make plans in the fall."

And at St. Mary's College of Maryland, athletic department spokesperson Gus Mohlhenrich said they were still aiming to have a fall season. 

"The goal is to play the schedules our coaches set before COVID-19 hit, but we may have to cancel non-conference games and contests that require extended travel time," he said. "Right now we are establishing safety protocols for practice, travel, and games."

 

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Heart condition linked to coronavirus a concern for Power 5 programs

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Heart condition linked to coronavirus a concern for Power 5 programs

As the Big Ten and other Power 5 conferences decide whether or not to have fall sports, numerous factors are part of the decision. The risk of infection during the coronavirus pandemic is enough in itself to halt plans, but a potential condition linked to the virus has become a major concern for many.

Myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart muscle, is a rare viral infection that studies have shown may be potentially linked to the coronavirus at a higher frequency than other viruses. It can be fatal if left untreated. Though uncommon, it has been found in several college athletes including five in the Big Ten, according to ESPN.

The Mid-American Conference postponed its fall season on Saturday, in part due to initial studies on Myocarditis.

"What we don't know was really haunting us, and that's why we came to our final decision," Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said. "That's part of the data that our presidents used. This mom gave us a play-by-play. That stuff is extremely scary."

With much still unknown about conditions connected to the virus, Power 5 programs and administrators are now faced with the risk of exposing their athletes and staff to complications beyond the initial infection of COVID-19. 

Testing and lags are problems that exist as well, but there is a larger body of work to show how those factors can impact a person and team. As for the rare heart condition, there are still numerous unanswered questions about the long terms effects.

Though the desire is there to have football and other sports be played, many understand that the risk may outweigh the reward.

"We are collectively, as a sports nation, not quite ready to feel entirely comfortable with what that may look like for our young people down the line, and we are not going to put them in that situation," Dr. John MacKnight, the head primary care team physician at the University of Virginia, said during a recent availability.

"There have been some concerns raised for that very reason: Do you not have uneasiness about having athletes participating knowing that you don't know what that longer-range outlook is? The answer is of course, yes," MacKnight said. "We don't have enough information to say this is the likelihood that this will or will not happen."

So while some players and coaches are campaigning for a season, reports that the Big Ten and others may soon announce the cancellation of the season run deeper than the fear of infection. Though that is a concern, there are additional, long term problems that could arise. 

It's a legitimate concern, and one that could derail the fall season for college sports.

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President Trump favors college football being played in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

President Trump favors college football being played in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump wants to see college football played this fall despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled," Trump tweeted on Monday.

Trump's post was a quote tweet response to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, arguably the brightest star in college football and likely No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence was one of many notable players across the country to tweet the hashtag #WeWantToPlay on Sunday following multiple reports that the college football season could be canceled or postponed as early as this week.

Following Sunday's reports that the season likely won't happen, Lawrence was one of several stars from multiple Power 5 teams that joined a Zoom call Sunday evening to attempt and organize a plan for players to express their opinion on the why they should play and ultimately save the season. 

Other notable names such as Ohio State's Justin Fields, Alabama's Najee Harris, and Oregon's Penei Sewell were on the call, according to ESPN. Since then, college football players have reportedly attempted to unionize as one final push to save the season.

Lawrence also explained in detail on Sunday why he feels there should be a college football season. The Clemson QB tweeted Sunday night saying he believes that canceling the season would actually put college football players more at risk of the contracting virus.

"Players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions," Lawrence wrote on his Twitter thread. 

While the outlook for the 2020 college football season doesn't look promising, Lawrence and several of the sport's biggest names are not going down without a fight. And based off President Trump's tweet, it looks as if he's on the players' side.

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