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Gulf South Conference, Valdosta State postpones athletics for rest of calendar year

(WCTV)
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 11:35 AM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - Valdosta State University says it is postponing competition in basketball, football, soccer and volleyball until at least Jan. 1, 2021.

The Gulf South Conference made the announcement about the delay in competition about the delay in competition for those sports Wednesday morning.

The conference had previously announced a delay to the start of their fall season on July 23.

“I am disappointed that we are having to make this decision,” Valdosta State Director of Athletics Herb Reinhard said. “I’m disappointed for our fall sport student-athletes, our coaches, our fans and supporters. The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff is our absolute priority. The health concerns associated with our “high contact” sports, coupled with the very significant challenges associated with meeting the NCAA’s mandatory testing guidelines, simply proved to be too high a hurdle for us to overcome in our efforts to compete this fall.”

The conference Board of Directors took into account three major factors for making this decision:

  1. Health and safety of student-athletes and campus communities;
  2. Mandated participation protocols from the NCAA Board of Governors, most notably the requirements related to Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition;
  3. NCAA Division II Fall Championships cancellation.

Cross country and golf will be allowed to compete during the fall 2020 semester, VSU says. The Gulf South Conference says its Cross Country Championship date may be rescheduled. Since golf and cross country are designated as “low contact risk and medium contact risk,” the testing and monitoring required under NCAA medical guidance is more manageable.

VSU head football coach Gary Goff said he’s disappointed his team won’t be able to compete this year.

“I know how difficult of a decision this has been for everyone involved,” Goff said. “The health and safety of our student-athletes is first and foremost and for this reason I am in full support. This fall and spring will be challenging due to all of the uncertainty, but we will be ready to compete for another championship when play resumes. Your Blazers will be back stronger than ever!”

The conference says it is evaluating options for spring competition for football, soccer and volleyball.

“I am disappointed that we will not be playing in the fall, but understand the decision as our priority has to be health and safety of our student-athletes,” VSU head women’s soccer coach Stephen Andrew said. “We are looking forward to working towards some kind of practice or workouts in the fall to prepare to get back on the field in the spring.”

The GSC says it will work to outline a calendar for this year’s basketball schedule and tournament. Additionally, the conference says it will work with the NCAA to advocate for more weeks of competition in the spring semester.

“We will consider opportunities for our fall sports to play outside competition in the spring,” Reinhard added. “Our fall sport student-athletes will retain their athletic aid and by not playing a full schedule in the spring they will also retain their year of eligibility. We are excited that our cross country and golf teams will have the opportunity to compete this fall. We will now turn our attention to providing our student-athletes an opportunity to train this fall and we will start preparing for what we hope will be a spring full of Blazer Athletics.”

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