OSWEGO — State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today that the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) will resume spring sports on March 20. Lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis, and track and field will all have seasons.
On January 20, Chancellor Malatras sent a letter to SUNYAC asking the league to develop a plan for the possible resumption of spring athletic competition. Over the past month, the league convened more than 50 stakeholders including campus presidents, athletic directors, coaches, and health experts to develop a plan. Last night the final plan was adopted by SUNYAC, which includes the following:
• Conference will be split into East/West region to limit travel and overnight stays
• Masks worn at all times by athletes, coaches, officials, except for athletes during competition or active practice
• No spectators pursuant to New York State Department of Health guidance
• Regular weekly testing/COVID symptom checks prior to competition
• Prior to road games, athletes will be tested within three days of departure
• No eating, masks worn on buses for travel; bus capacity reduced to 50 percent
• No handshakes, group celebrations or pre- or post-interaction with opposing team
The plan also includes that rising COVID positivity rates could delay or pause competition.
Leading up to spring sports, SUNY also unveiled a new video from SUNY Brockport, a SUNYAC campus, as a part of its -MaskUpSUNY campaign to keep campuses safe for the spring semester. The spring campaign will star SUNYAC student athletes as they prepare to get back in the game and can be found online here. Other SUNYAC campuses include: Buffalo State, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh, and Potsdam.
“The pandemic has kept our student athletes off the playing field for too long, but thanks to the great work and effort of SUNYAC Commissioner DiCamillo, our campus presidents, the SUNYAC leadership, athletic directors, coaches, and our athletes, we’ve developed a workable plan to resume athletic competition at SUNY,” said Chancellor Malatras. “I look forward to all of the great competition this year, and SUNY, like always, will aggressively handle any situations related to COVID as they emerge. I have confidence in our students—both on and off the field—to stay the course and comply to keep one another and our entire campuses and communities safe.”
“I want to thank and acknowledge the dedication, tenacity, and insight of Chancellor Malatras, our SUNYAC presidents, and Conference Commissioner Tom DiCamillo, as well as SUNY Oswego Athletic Directors Eric Summers and Dan Kane and our campus coaches for their hard work in producing a plan for spring 2021 that is feasible, while still being highly focused on safety,” SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley added. “I want to especially note that our athletes have been part of an amazing effort to stay strong, well, and ready to compete. We know it has taken the commitment of all our students to step up and play a critical role in helping to mitigate the spread of the virus on the Oswego campus and in the greater community.“
SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum, Chair of SUNYAC’s President’s Council, said: “Athletics is an important aspect of student life at SUNY Cortland and all SUNYAC institutions. I am grateful to the dozens of individuals who worked to create a plan that will allow SUNYAC teams to safely resume competition, and immensely proud of our student athletes, who I know they will make the most of this opportunity.”
SUNYAC Commissioner Tom DiCamillo said: “This plan has come together after consultation with SUNYAC presidents and experts across the campuses, as well as close partnership with our local health officials. It includes a thorough strategy to keep players, coaches, and personnel safe, and we are pleased to get the season started for more of our SUNYAC teams. My thanks to Chancellor Malatras for his support.”
SUNY Oswego Senior Myles Felton, Baseball, said: “We know this wasn’t an easy decision, and my teammates and I are thankful and beyond excited. This is what we have dedicated so much of our time to do—compete. We are ready to play and will continue to do what we can to keep each other safe.”
The SUNYAC plan follows a comprehensive review of spring sports by more than 50 individual athletic administrators, coaches, assignors of officials, certified athletic trainers, and sports information directors. The plan was shared with each individual local Department of Health.
The spring sports sponsored by the SUNYAC for return under this plan are considered intermediate and low risk and will be contested outdoors. The following sports are set to begin March 20 and will continue until late May/early June: baseball, lacrosse (men’s), lacrosse (women’s), softball, tennis (women’s), and track & field - outdoor (men’s and women’s).
The SUNYAC is an NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletic conference featuring 10 full-member SUNY institutions (Brockport, Buffalo State, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh and Potsdam) and one affiliate (Morrisville) that sponsors 20 championships (9 men’s, 11 women’s). There are more than 4,500 student athletes that compete in the SUNYAC.