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MAAC, America East cancel spring sports seasons

MAAC, America East cancel spring sports seasons

Marr: "This is way more big-picture then any athletic event"
MAAC, America East cancel spring sports seasons
Siena's Nicole McNeely moves through the UAlbany defense during a women's lacrosse game Wednesday at Hickey Field.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

There will be no more spring sports at either UAlbany or Siena, as both the America East and MAAC announced Thursday that the conferences were canceling athletic competition for the remainder of the academic year as part of continued measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

It was also announced Thursday that spring sports seasons have been canceled at RPI, while sports at Union have been suspended through at least April 10.

The MAAC announcement was made Thursday as the league canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which were taking place at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The final completed game, the Siena women’s 72-56 loss to Fairfield, was played early Thursday afternoon with no fans in attendance before the decision was then made to scrap the remainder of the event.

A few hours later, the America East issued a statement canceling all competition and practices for the remainder of the academic year.

The statement, which UAlbany later released itself, reads:

“Effective immediately, all competition and practices for all teams and individual student-athletes at America East Conference institutions have been canceled for the rest of this academic year, including any spring sport events that occur beyond the academic year.

The decision was made in light of the recent developments, including the cancellation of all NCAA winter and spring championships, regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is a proactive decision to protect the health, safety and well-being of everyone.”

It was announced earlier Thursday by UAlbany that there was a single confirmed case of COVID-19 among a “member of the UAlbany community who resides off campus.”

The America East’s decision came shortly after the NCAA’s decision to cancel it’s remaining winter and spring championship events.

UAlbany men’s lacrosse coach Scott Marr called it a “somber” day and said he finished meeting with his team around 6 p.m. Marr said the news was difficult to take, but that he understood why the decision was made.

“This is way more big-picture then any athletic event,” Marr said. “We have to respect the opinions of doctors and scientists right now that are telling us that we need to stop playing sports, stop doing things as big groups. We have to just kind of accept it and move on, see what happens down the road.”

Marr said he met with his team in the hopes to provide a “little closure,” to this season, which ended for the Great Danes with a 2-3 record. There are still plenty of questions to answer moving forward, Marr said, and it was particularly difficult to say goodbye to his senior players on such abrupt notice.

“It’s a disappointment not being around again anymore as a team,” he said. “This is the last time these guys will all be together. It’s just sad to see.”

Marr also had to deal with the decision from a parent’s perspective, as his daughter Jordyn is a senior on the UAlbany women’s lacrosse team that played its final game Wednesday in a 20-10 win over Siena.

“As a coach, I’ve got to deal with my guys and what we’re doing, but then I’ve got to flip my hat around and be a dad to her and console her,” he said.

UAlbany deputy athletic director Vic Cegles said Thursday evening that the school had “not heard anything from the NCAA” in terms of how the cancellation of the season will effect the eligibility of spring athletes.

Cegles also said that as of Thursday, no decision had been made about UAlbany’s spring football plans, but that “some modifications” will be made.

In the MAAC, Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said the league’s athletic directors met at 8 a.m. Thursday in Atlantic City to discuss spring sports, and the decision was reached to cancel them. The decision is effective Friday morning.

“No games, no practice, no workouts. That’s all canceled,” D’Argenio said.

“Beyond basketball, we’re also canceling all spring sports,” MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor said. “Competition, practices, trips — you name it — effective [Friday] morning.”

Siena men’s lacrosse coach Liam Gleason and women’s lacrosse coach Abby Rehfuss both declined comment Thursday.

At Union, where a staff member tested positive for the virus Thursday, classes were canceled for Thursday and Friday, and all classes will be conducted remotely from when spring term begins March 30 through at least April 10.

In an email Thursday night, Union director of athletic communications Steve Sheridan wrote, “The College’s current position is that all face-to-face student activities, including Athletics, will be suspended while the College is instituting remote class instruction. This will be through at least April 10.”

RPI also announced Thursday that the school was canceling the seasons of its nine spring sports, effective Friday, as well as practices and competitions for the men’s hockey, and women’s swimming and diving teams that were still in the midst of their winter seasons.

The Empire 8, which includes Sage, also announced it was canceling its spring sports seasons.

“The Empire 8 has been closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the impact on our member institutions and communities,” Empire 8 commissioner Chuck Mitrano said in a statement.”This is indeed a unique time in our country and across the sporting landscape. As a result, the Empire 8 Presidents Council has unanimously voted to take unprecedented measures and cancel all Empire 8 regular season and conference tournament athletic competition.

“Individual Empire 8 institutions have the autonomy to make decisions about their athletics programs ability to continue athletic related activities as defined by the NCAA as well as nonconference competition. The Empire 8 intends to advocate the NCAA to allow spring student-athletes to retain this lost season of eligibility.”

Skidmore also announced that it was canceling its spring sports seasons.

Skidmore, RPI and Union are all members of the Liberty League. According to a report by The Ithacan, Ithaca College's student newspaper, Liberty League commissioner Tracey King said Thursday that the league had not voted on any overarching decisions and does not plan to take any collective action at this time. According to the report, King said that decisions about athletic participation are being made by each individual institution.

The NCAA’s decision to cancel winter championships affected Saint Rose junior Colleen Quaglia, who was set to compete in the 200-yard butterfly and 500-yard freestyle starting Friday at the NCAA Division II championships in Geneva, Ohio.

Sports Editor Michael Kelly contributed to this report.

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