DEFIANCE — With the announcement of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s decision to move several fall “contact” sports to the spring season, Defiance College said in a statement it is moving football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to the spring season.

Along with Defiance College, other members of the HCAC are Anderson University, Bluffton University, Earlham College, Franklin College, Hanover College, Manchester University, Mount St. Joseph University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Transylvania University.

“Although this is disappointing news for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus community, we understand the priority is the health and safety of everyone involved in athletics and on our campus,” said Defiance Athletics Director Derek Woodley. “We are committed to providing a meaningful and engaging experience for our student-athletes and will develop a plan for the affected sports to include practices, workouts and training opportunities this fall, with details of those plans to be forthcoming. In addition, we will work diligently with our coaches and campus leaders to develop competitive opportunities this fall. Go Jackets!”

The HCAC said in a statement it was switching the four “contact” sports due to “risk calculations” by the NCAA. Golf, tennis and cross country will continue with its fall seasons, while baseball and softball may play non-conference games during the fall season.

“The decisions on shifting the competitive seasons for these high contact risk sports came after careful analysis of whether HCAC institutions could successfully fulfill NCAA testing recommendations without drawing vital health resources from their local communities,” read the statement from the HCAC. “In addition, the conference feels that as continued scientific and testing gains are made with respect to the COVID-19 virus, a spring season for the high contact risk sports will be safer for our student-athletes. Finally, with the recent NCAA waiver allowing for flexibility in how teams’ seasons are structured, the council of presidents felt that students could still have meaningful experiences this fall, even without conference competition.”

Baseball and softball, along with golf and tennis could see a split season between the fall and spring seasons, according to the HCAC.

“It is the health of our students and those they love that is most important,” Defiance College President Richanne C. Mankey said. “This pandemic is an unprecedented time that requires critical and creative thinking ... and difficult choices. Truly we were hoping our news would be different. Yet, this virus is pernicious and we must carefully proceed by taking all possible measures to protect everyone.”

The HCAC added a decision on the timing of basketball seasons (men and women), which are defined as a high contact risk sport by the NCAA, will be made in the near future.

Swimming and diving is classified as a low contact risk sport and will continue forward with its standard schedule. The sports of indoor and outdoor track and field, men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse have also not been altered at this time.

E-mail comments to jeffr@northwestsignal.net.

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