Liberty League will hold spring sports season

Union College will hold a season for its spring sports teams, including baseball.  (ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)

Union College will hold a season for its spring sports teams, including baseball.  (ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER)

The Liberty League granted its members freedom on Monday.

The league Council of Presidents voted unanimously to schedule a spring sports season to begin on the weekend of March 26.

Union College, RPI and Skidmore are Liberty League schools for Division III sports.

The league’s spring sports include include baseball; men’s and women’s golf; men’s and women’s lacrosse; men’s and women’s rowing; softball; men’s and women’s tennis; and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.

Under the plan, Liberty League competition will take place predominantly against league member institutions. Student-athletes and team personnel will be required to adhere to a rigorous COVID-19 testing protocol in order to ensure a healthy and safe environment for competition.

“I am grateful for the support and endorsement of our presidents for the league’s return-to-play plan,” league commissioner Tracy King said in a release. “The Liberty League will move forward with cautious optimism as we look to provide competitive opportunities for our student-athletes. The health and safety of our student-athletes will remain our top priority as we resume Liberty League athletics competition across our campuses.”

Union, where two tennis players, Max and Austin Egna, started an online petition urging the school and league to schedule a spring season, announced its intention for all spring sports programs to participate in Liberty League competition.

“Our campus community and our students in particular have done a terrific job in responding to the challenges of the pandemic over the past year,” Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said in a release. “We are thrilled our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in the upcoming season and look forward to our teams taking the field at the end of this month. We must remain vigilant in our commitment to campus policies to continue to compete throughout the spring and keep our community safe.”

“Throughout this long pandemic, the health, safety and well-being of our community have remained our top priorities,” Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Strom Thacker said.

“We have also sought to advance the mission of the College in ways that are consistent with those principles. We are confident that our own protocols and those agreed upon with our Liberty League partners enable us to engage safely in outdoor spring athletics competition, a key component of many students’ educational experience at Union. We will continue to monitor campus, local and regional conditions and will make any necessary adjustments during the season. I am excited for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete safely.”

RPI said it hasn’t made a final decision yet on participating in spring sports.

“We are developing a plan to allow our athletic teams to participate in training and conditioning, and a possible delayed entry into Liberty League competition,” the RPI athletic department said in a release. “The degree to which we may participate in Liberty League competition is dependent on the overall public health situation — internal to Rensselaer, the communities around us, and the communities inside and around the schools against whom we compete. Currently we remain concerned, given a recent rise in COVID-19 cases at Rensselaer, and we will continue to monitor and evaluate the overall public health situation.”

Liberty League institutions will be permitted to engage in competition against non-league opponents as long as they adhere to the league’s COVID-19 return-to-play protocols. League schedules will be posted online in the coming weeks but are subject to change due to the changing COVID landscape.

“We also recognize the autonomy of our institutions to make decisions that are in the best interests of their campus communities, including decisions on  spring athletics participation,” King said. “While we plan to move forward with Liberty League spring competition and championships, we respect and support  those decisions and understand that institutional policies and circumstances may dictate that schools opt out or suspend spring athletics competition.”

Other Liberty League schools include Bard, Clarkson, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Ithaca, St. Lawrence, RIT, Rochester and Vassar.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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