The fallout from coronavirus pandemic struck junior college athletics in Minnesota on Monday when the Minnesota College Athletic Conference announced it has canceled football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer for the fall season.
The MCAC, a 24-team junior and community college conference that includes 19 teams from Minnesota, cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health in the decision by its school presidents.
In a statement, the conference said that the fall sports identified as low risk — men’s and women’s golf and coed clay target — could go on.
“It’s disappointing, but mainly it’s disappointing and disheartening for our student-athletes and for our coaches,’’ said Mike Lester, athletic director at Rochester Community and Technical College. “Our coaches work so hard and our student-athletes work so hard. But I also know the decision wasn’t made lightly by the presidents. They thought about every possible scenario.’’
In addition, the MCAC said its basketball, baseball, softball and wrestling programs – which span the fall and spring semesters -- will not be allowed to hold organized physical activities or games during the fall semester. Competition in those sports wouldn’t begin until January.
T.D. Hostikka, baseball coach at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington, said via Twitter that the spring season could be in doubt, too.
“It comes with great sadness and frustration that there will be no fall sports, practices, training or conditioning at Minnesota West or in the MCAC. There are no guarantees for Spring 2021,” he wrote. “I am truly sorry.”
Time was running out to decide on the season because volleyball was scheduled to begin play Aug. 18, with football starting four days later.
“With so many of our student-athletes coming from a bit further away … it became a decision our presidents had to make for the sake of our student-athletes to help them be in the best situation for the fall,’’ Lester said.
Last week, the commissioners of the NCAA Division II Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Upper Midwest Athletic Conference said their leagues plan to proceed with fall sports, although meetings in July could alter those plans.