The Liberty League, which includes Union College, RPI and Skidmore College, will conduct fall sports starting Sept. 26 at the earliest under a plan formulated by the league’s Presidents Council.
Of those three schools, Union administration still hasn’t announced whether a fall sports season will happen.
Skidmore’s sports programs will go forward with a fall schedule, while RPI announced last week that they would not.
Liberty League schools will have the opportunity to participate with competition predominantly against Liberty League member institutions while including a limited number of non-league opportunities following a phased resocialization.
With the Sept. 26 start date, Union loses its first three football games, as well as the Dutchman Shoes game on Nov. 16 because of RPI canceling its fall sports.
Under the current football schedule, the Dutchmen could start on Oct. 3, a Liberty League road game at Hobart, but that would depend on both schools allowing sports.
So Union head coach Jeff Behrman continues to be in a holding pattern on his team’s season and schedule.
“I’m glad they made a decision as a league to say it’s OK. You read it, though, and it’s still up to the individual schools to do what they feel is right for their campus community,” Behrman said.
“The administration and board of trustees have been in communication in recent days. I have all the confidence in the world that the decision they’re going to make is what is right and responsible for the campus and community as a whole. This is so much greater than just sports, even though sports is getting the attention.”
“These are unprecedented times, not only in collegiate athletics, but also in higher education,” Liberty League commissioner Tracy King said in a release. “As our member institutions develop plans to re-open campuses and resume athletic competition, we recognize the autonomy of our institutions to make decisions that are in the best interests of their campus communities. We respect and support those decisions and understand that circumstances may vary from school to school. While we continue planning for a return to athletic competition, our focus will remain on prioritizing the health and safety of our student-athletes and campuses.”
The Liberty League said it will adhere to all state and local directives regarding athletics competition. At a minimum, all teams must complete the first two phases of the guidelines outlined in the NCAA’s Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport prior to engaging in competition.
While fall schedules remain in development and will be announced at a later date, competition in team sports will be against Liberty League member institutions while also permitting two additional non-league opportunities. Liberty League member institutions will confirm that non-league competitors are following comparable health and safety protocols in advance of any contest.
Teams competing in individual sports will compete in smaller events with fewer competitors.
“A schedule focused primarily on playing league members will aid in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while still providing a quality competitive season for our student-athletes,” King said.
The NCAA has announced plans to hold its fall sport championships as originally scheduled.
A league-wide decision on permitting spectators at athletic events will be made by Sept. 1.
Besides football, Union competes in crew, cross country, soccer, tennis, field hockey, golf and women’s volleyball in the fall.
Skidmore has men’s golf, soccer, tennis, field hockey, women’s volleyball and crew.
Besides the Capital Region schools and Hobart, the other Liberty League member institutions include Bard, Clarkson, Ithaca, RIT, St. Lawrence and Vassar.
“I’ve had some other conversations with some Liberty League coaches, but there’s nothing anybody can do until their own schools decide what to do,” Behrman said.
“I think everybody at this point wants to know what’s happening. A decision was made, so that’s good. I know the Ivy League comes out with their plan tomorrow [Wednesday]. They’re interesting times, that’s for sure.”