Courtesy of RITAthletics.com
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rochester Institute of Technology has canceled all winter sports competition for the 2020-21 season.
Effected teams include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s indoor track & field and wrestling.
“This was a very difficult decision and we understand the disappointment this brings to our student-athletes and coaches,” said RIT President David Munson. “But given the rise in COVID-19 in our community, as well as across the nation and globe, this is the right thing to do for athletes and community safety. We remain committed to providing RIT Tigers the highest-level academic experience as well as a safe environment where they will be able to continue their growth as individuals and as teams.”
RIT’s men’s and women’s ice hockey teams play at the Division I level, with the men playing in the Atlantic Hockey Association and the women playing in College Hockey America. While these conferences are still scheduled to play, RIT leadership felt the obstacles were too high to play during a global pandemic.
“Campus leadership has been meeting regularly to discuss the prospect of safely conducting winter sports competitions under the backdrop of extensive NCAA, New York State, Department of Health and university guidelines aimed at keeping our community safe,” said RIT Executive Director of Athletics Lou Spiotti Jr. “In spite of our efforts, the virus continues to spread throughout the region and we could not justify a season of competition for any of our teams.”
“We feel for all the dedicated student-athletes, coaches, and entire department of Intercollegiate Athletics,” said RIT Senior VP for Student Affairs Sandra Johnson. “They have trained hard and prepared for competition. Moving forward, we will continue to work together to provide meaningful opportunities and support our student-athletes.”
Following a vote of the Presidents Council, the Liberty league also released a statement announcing all winter conference competition and championships have been canceled. The Liberty League is the eighth Division III conference in the nation to cancel all winter sports operations, including the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC).
“The decision to cancel Liberty League competition and championships was made after careful consideration and review of relevant facts and data,” said Liberty League Commissioner Tracy King. “COVID-19 infection rates continue to increase throughout the country and we have also seen spikes in our college communities, which creates additional challenges for our institutions. We understand the deep sense of disappointment felt by our student-athletes that have trained and prepared for competition and we understand and share in their disappointment.”
The NCAA recently approved a blanket waiver allowing all student-athletes across all divisions to retain their year of eligibility for the 2020-21 academic year.
In collaboration with the Liberty League, an appropriate course of action for spring sports is to be determined in the coming months. Stay tuned to ritathletics.com and @RITAthletics on Twitter for the latest information.