Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's logo

The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's logo.

The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Council of Presidents, which includes Defiance College, has unanimously voted to push football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball to next spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, the conference announced in a press release Monday morning.

These four sports are classified as high contact sports by the NCAA.

“The decisions on shifting the competitive seasons for these high contact risk sports came after careful analysis of whether HCAC institutions could successfully fulfill NCAA testing recommendations without drawing vital health resources from their local communities,” the conference said in the press release. “In addition, the conference feels that as continued scientific and testing gains are made with respect to the COVID-19 virus, a spring season for the high contact risk sports will be safer for our student-athletes.”

However, the HCAC said golf, tennis and cross country will still play this fall, with some baseball and softball games being scheduled, but won’t count toward league standings.

The HCAC, which consists of schools from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, said because of the NCAA’s recent waiver giving flexibility for how seasons are structured, the conference’s council of presidents “felt that students could still have meaningful experiences this fall, even without conference competition.”

There will also be a future decision on basketball, which is classified as a high contact sport, while swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track and field, along with men’s and women’s lacrosse, are scheduled to go as planned.

“It is the health of our students and those they love that is most important,” Defiance President Richanne C. Mankey said in a separate release. “This pandemic is an unprecedented time that requires critical and creative thinking… and difficult choices. Truly we were hoping our news would be different.

“Yet, this virus is pernicious and we must carefully proceed by taking all possible measures to protect everyone.”

The HCAC isn’t the first Division III conference with Ohio teams to alter fall sports.

The Ohio Athletic Conference postponed all sports until Jan. 1, 2021 last Friday, and The North Coast Athletic Conference announcing the same last Wednesday, while The Presidents’ Athletic Conference announcing a modified similar to the HCAC Friday, having golf and tennis go as planned.

Other conferences outside of Division III have also postponed fall sports, like Division I FCS football-level the Ivy League, Colonial Athletic Conference, MEAC and SWAC.

But while HCAC’s high contact sports are postponed until spring, Defiance’s athletic director, Derek Woodley, said there will be upcoming plans on how those sports can possibly practice and workout.

“Although this is disappointing news for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus community, we understand the priority is the health and safety of everyone involved in athletics and on our campus,” Woodley said in a press release. “We are committed to providing a meaningful and engaging experience for our student-athletes ... In addition, we will work diligently with our coaches and campus leaders to develop competitive opportunities this fall.”

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