LOUDONVILLE — The MAAC offered additional guidance Friday regarding further delay of its fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus announced that no on-campus summer workouts will be allowed for the league’s basketball programs.
College basketball season is still four months away, but developments this week with colleges and conferences across the country announcing cancellations and delays has left Siena athletic director John D’Argenio unsure how certain it is that his department’s flagship programs will be able to start on time for its 2020-21 season.
“I’m getting concerned,” D’Argenio said Friday in a phone interview. “Concerned and nervous are similar. You see some leagues that have already said they’re not doing anything through December.”
D’Argenio noted his men’s basketball program has scheduled games outside the Northeast, including in Florida where the Saints are slated to play in the Orlando Invitational.
“So I’m getting concerned about when we can start, and, obviously, we’re still working through home-game issues in terms of [hosting] fans and stuff like that,” D’Argenio said.
Following a meeting earlier this week of the league’s council of presidents, Siena and its fellow MAAC members announced Friday they won’t participate in non-conference competition for multiple fall sports and that no on-campus summer workouts for the league’s basketball programs will be permitted. Additionally, competition start dates for fall sports such as cross country, golf and tennis are being reworked.
Previously, the MAAC had moved all fall sports competitions to starting no earlier than Sept. 11, but D’Argenio said Friday that start dates for those non-contact fall sports could change.
“We’re revisiting that,” D’Argenio said.
In its revised plan announced Friday, the MAAC’s start date for competition for men’s soccer is now Oct. 3, women’s soccer is Sept. 26 and women’s volleyball is Sept. 19.
“The council will revisit at its July 24 meeting any modifications to conference play for these sports,” the MAAC’s statement reads.
Meanwhile, members of basketball programs will need to wait until school resumes to be able to work out on campus. There had been a chance that basketball athletes could have been on campus for a two-week training session at some point in August.
“Basketball activities will commence when the full student body returns to campus,” the MAAC’s statement reads.
Normally, basketball players are allowed eight weeks of summer workouts on campus. Siena men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello said he had been “hoping for the best” in terms of his athletes possibly returning to campus for summer workouts, but that Friday’s MAAC decision was what he expected.
“But I think they’ve all been working pretty hard, to be honest,” Maciariello said of his Saints who are coming off a 20-10 season. “They’re all internally motivated and all have access to weights, or places to do sprints, pushups, situps, dip, squats and all that kind of stuff.”
Maciariello’s first season as a head coach concluded when the remainder of the MAAC tournament was canceled because of coronavirus concerns. The Saints were on a 10-game winning streak at that point. The coach said Friday he’s “not thinking about that” when asked if he was concerned his program’s 2020-21 season could be affected.
“We’ve got to take it one step at a time, and get these guys back to campus,” Maciariello said. “I miss my team. It’s something you’re not used to, being away from the guys for so long.”
D’Argenio said Siena could still bring fall athletes back during the week of Aug. 16 as previously planned, but that a firm timeline for arrival of athletes ahead of the school’s Aug. 24 start date for classes is still coming together.
While a variety of schools and leagues this week moved forward with decisions not to play any sports this fall — including several Capital Region colleges, such as Union and Saint Rose — D’Argenio said he was comfortable with the MAAC’s decision to further delay its fall season ahead of another meeting next Friday of the league’s presidents.
“Our thought was to take this incrementally,” D’Argenio said, “and see how things unfold in front of us.”