BOSTON — There will be no fall season for the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Stony Brook University and NJIT.
On Friday, the American East Conference Board of Presidents announced it was postponing all league fall sport athletics for the duration of that semester.
The board stressed in a press release that it was not a cancellation, but a postponement.
In a statement, the conference said it made the decision “with the health and safety of its member institutions’ communities, the importance of successful institutional campus reopenings and the overall well‐being of its student‐athletes as its top priorities.”
The conference added that will develop plans for a competitive structure in the second semester and will identify a working group to begin studying it immediately. Athletics activities and student‐athlete services for fall sports including but not limited to training, practice, strength and conditioning, athletic training and academic support will be permitted at each institution’s discretion in adherence with NCAA rules and local and state health and safety guidelines.
The decision was unanimously approved by the league’s Board of Presidents.
“The past few weeks have been unquestionably difficult in working our way through the process that led us to this outcome,” America East Board of Presidents Chair Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, University at Albany said in a statement. “However, this proactive decision by our members to postpone fall sport athletics competition for the duration of the first semester is in the best interest of all America East student‐athletes, athletics departments and university communities. Right now, it is imperative that each of our institutions can safely reopen to their broader campus communities and this decision supports those efforts. We have always maintained that the health, safety and well‐being of everyone within our conference, especially our student‐athletes, is paramount. Unfortunately, given the current persistence, restrictions and uncertainty associated with the COVID‐19 pandemic, it is clear to us now that this difficult, but responsible decision must be made.”
The conference will continue to monitor the landscape and conditions surrounding the pandemic, locally, regionally and nationally, and make any decisions or announcements at a later date regarding its winter sports, as necessary.
“This was not an easy conclusion for our membership to reach, but it was made with care and diligence and with health and safety as the highest priority,” America East commissioner Amy Huchthausen said in a statement. For the last several months, we have been working extensively with our membership to prepare for the fall sports season, including developing health and safety protocols, revising schedules and creating contingency plans. We have remained optimistic that we could safely conduct a fall sports season, however, there are several external factors outside of our institutions’ control that will limit and disrupt our ability to deliver our student‐athletes an experience they deserve. While several issues and questions remain, we are hopeful that creative thinking and solutions will emerge in concert with improved measures to reduce the risk associated with COVID‐19 as the academic year unfolds.”
Stony Brook and NJIT officials expressed disappointment of having no fall season, but supported the conference’s decision.
“Although it was our hope to compete this fall, circumstances beyond our control have necessitated an alternate path,” Stony Brook director of athletics Shawn Heilbron said in a statement. “I support the decision, and welcome the clarity that it provides to our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We will work closely with our conferences as they monitor the landscape and conditions surrounding the pandemic, with the health and wellness of our student-athletes being our top priority.”
Binghamton University, University of Hartford, University of Maine, New Hampshire, UAlbany, UMass Lowell, UMBC and University of Vermont also comprise the America East Conference.
“As in March, I am saddened that it has come to this after a long and arduous process,” NJIT associate vice president and director of athletics Lenny Kaplan said in a statement. “I really believed, as we came out of the initial stages of the pandemic earlier this summer, that our fall sport student-athletes would be able to have their seasons with some adjustments. Unfortunately, with this recent spike of cases across the country, it has become clear that will not be possible in a safe and responsible manner. Unlike last spring, there remains hope, as we are able to postpone, not cancel, our fall seasons. I look forward to welcoming our student-athletes back to campus next month and moving forward with plans for them to compete during the spring semester. I know our coaches and staff will remain focused on ensuring the best experiences possible for all of our student-athletes as we move forward.”