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Coronavirus puts hold on local small college sports

Joe Avento • Mar 13, 2020 at 12:03 PM

There will be no athletic competition at local colleges for the foreseeable future.

The Appalachian Athletic Conference and Conference Carolinas have suspended competition, and the South Atlantic Conference has canceled spring sports altogether, because of the ongoing fear of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The AAC, of which Milligan is a member, issued a statement Friday: “Being especially mindful of the health and safety of our student-athletes, the Appalachian Athletic Conference is suspending all athletic competitions through April 5, 2020. A further decision on whether to resume spring season competition will be announced some time before then based on developments in the efforts to contain COVID-19. During this time, the AAC will continue to access and review the viability of our 2020 spring sports regular season and postseason competition.”

A day earlier, Conference Carolinas, with King being the most local member, suspended competition.

“The safety and well-being of Conference Carolinas student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans are always of the utmost importance,” Conference Carolinas Commissioner Chris Colvin said. “For this reason, Conference Carolinas has made the difficult decision due to the evolving COVID-19 public health threat to suspend all athletics competition until further notice.

“We fully understand the ramifications of what this means for our student-athletes, coaches and administrators who put in so much hard work daily for their institutions, but we feel this is the right decision currently. Our first priority is always the protection of our student-athletes along with our coaches and administrators. I would like to thank all of our presidents and administrators for working together to help us make this incredibly tough decision.”

Meanwhile, the SAC, of which Tusculum, UVA Wise and Carson-Newman are members, went a step further, completely canceling all competition and practice. The AAC and Conference Carolinas used the term “suspended,” with hopes of possibly playing at some point.

The conference’s statement: “The South Atlantic Conference and its member institutions continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health and medical professionals, as such the SAC Presidents Council, has made the decision to cancel all spring athletics competition and practice for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. This includes all SAC spring sports championships.”

“This is uncharted territory and we are looking out for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and staff,” SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz said. “I want to thank the presidents and athletic directors of the SAC for helping us make a swift and difficult decision that none of us wanted to make, but it is in the best interest of everyone as a whole.”

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