WEST BABYLON, N.Y. – The East Coast Conference Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to suspend all intercollegiate competition during the fall semester due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision affects 10 Division II schools in the ECC – the University of Bridgeport, Daemen College, University of the District of Columbia, Mercy College, Molloy College, New York Tech, Queens College, Roberts Wesleyan, College of Staten Island and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Men’s and women’s cross country and women’s volleyball were affected. Women’s tennis had been moved to the spring season in a vote by the league’s athletic directors last month.

In a statement, the ECC said that it was “committed to providing meaningful seasons of competition” for all impacted teams and their student-athletes during the spring semester with plans to begin competition after Jan. 1, 2021.

“In the best tradition of NCAA Division II, the presidents of the East Coast Conference always make the health and safety of our student-athletes our highest priority, and this is why we unanimously chose to make this unprecedented change in this year’s schedule,” the conference said in a statement.

ECC commissioner Dr. Robert Dranoff added, ”Along with many of our colleagues in intercollegiate athletics, after a great deal of consideration and discussion with our presidents and athletic leadership, we find ourselves having to make this very difficult decision of suspending fall 2020 sports competition. Challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic bring with them challenging decisions and we must focus on protecting the health and welfare of student-athletes and all those who support them on our campuses.

“While there may not be athletic competition in the fall, we will continue our efforts to plan for Winter and Spring sports and support our institutions in providing the best possible experience for all student-athletes.”

The conference said that efforts to plan schedules and championship opportunities for fall sports will begin at once.

The conference’s winter sports — men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, and women’s bowling — also were affected by the decision as the sports will not start their season of competition until the start of 2021. Conference championship dates for the winter sports will remain intact.

Training, workout, and practice activities during the fall semester will be left to the discretion of each institution based on facilities, staffing, and in accordance with school, local, and state regulations, the ECC stated.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.