The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) is the latest college sports league to scrap fall sports this year out of concerns over the transmission of COVID-19.
The NCAA Division 2’s GLIAC, which includes Grand Valley State University, Davenport University and Ferris State University, announced today that it would postpone play until Jan. 1, 2021 with the hopes of shifting the fall sports season to the spring while potentially delaying the beginning of winter sports.
The presidents and chancellors of the conference’s member institutions voted unanimously on Tuesday to take these measures. The GLIAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors is led by Davenport President Dr. Richard Pappas, who said in a statement that athletic directors considered many different measures to hold competition this fall, but the threat of COVID-19 was simply too great.
Student-athletes are permitted to practice and partake in athletic training programs that align with both NCAA and state guidelines.
“The decision to suspend all sports competition this fall was extremely difficult,” GLIAC commissioner Kris Dunbar said in a statement. "After thoroughly reviewing federal, state, and NCAA SSI (Sport Science Institute) and Board of Governor’s guidelines, it became apparent that conducting contests and championships this fall was insurmountable. My frustration and sadness for the coaches, student-athletes, families and fans is unmitigated.”
COLLEGE SPORTS SIDELINED IN MICHIGAN
The GLIAC’s decision was not the first or remotely the most high-profile of these recent announcements.
Late last week, the Mid-American Conference announced it would postpone fall sports, including football, because of the pandemic. This scrapped the football schedules for Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University.
“The decision is grounded in the core values of the conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being, an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role,” MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said upon the announcement. “Clearly, we are charting a conservative path — and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group.”
The MAC was the first of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences to cancel, but was not alone for long.
On Tuesday, the Big Ten made official what had been several days of rumblings throughout national media when it announced it would also postpone fall sports in hopes of picking them up in the spring. Sports fans are now facing a fall without University of Michigan or Michigan State University football.
The decision was met with public disappointment from U-M head football coach Jim Harbaugh in addition to a handful of Big Ten coaches and a wide range of players and fans.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
The Pacific-12 Conference (PAC-12) followed suit in canceling fall sports, but conferences with high-profile football programs like the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) are still forging ahead.