The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) is postponing all fall sports due to coronavirus concerns, according to an Aug. 14 press release.
In the release, the conference said it will “continue to evaluate options” for the impacted sports — men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball — including potentially moving them to the spring.
Loyola Athletic Director Steve Watson addressed the Loyola community by saying it was a tough decision but necessary to protect everybody involved.
“These have been a very difficult few months for all of us and this decision was a difficult one to make,” Watson said in his message to fans. “However, as always, the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and game officials are and will continue to be at the forefront of all of our decisions.”
The MVC had previously announced the fall season would be delayed until Sept. 18 and official team practices couldn’t start until Aug. 17.
While there won’t be any MVC-sponsored games or championships going on during the fall season, the conference said it will allow student-athletes in all sports to “participate in athletically-related activities.” Those activities must still comply with safety measures put in place by the institutions, NCAA and public health guidelines. The press release included non-conference competition, practices, strength and conditioning sessions and team meetings as examples of activities that will be allowed.
As for Loyola student-athletes, the plan is to allow them to continue doing conditioning workouts and small pod skill instruction workouts, according to a Loyola Athletics spokesperson. That spokesperson added that while non-conference games are technically still an option, the odds of them happening are “minuscule.”
Quotes from each of Loyola’s fall sports head coaches were included in Loyola’s press release about the fall sports postponement. All of them said they were disappointed to not play in the fall, but they understood and appreciated the safety precautions being taken by the MVC.
Women’s soccer head coach Barry Bimbi said it was “heartbreaking” to tell his team they won’t be playing during the fall.
“I am disappointed that they will not have the opportunity to show us how hard they have been working, how much they have improved individually, and how much they have grown as a team this fall,” Bimbi said in the release. “We will continue to stay disciplined and work hard to improve every day, so when given the chance in the spring, we will be prepared to defend our Missouri Valley Conference Championship.”
Watson and Bimbi weren’t immediately available for comment.
The MVC’s decision to postpone its fall seasons comes amidst a nationwide debate centered on whether collegiate sports should be played this fall with COVID-19 looming. The Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 Conference both announced they’re postponing their fall sports. Meanwhile, the Southeastern, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conferences are all planning to continue with the fall seasons.
Both the MVC’s press release and Watson’s address said this decision doesn’t impact winter and spring sports. In his letter, Watson said decisions about those seasons will be coming later in the fall.