Old Dominion Athletic Conference suspends sports through end of calendar year
“The conference’s leadership worked extremely hard to explore ways we might have conducted conference championships and competition in the fall,” ODAC Commissioner Brad Bankston said. “Those conversations involved a number of options, but none of them could change the current impact of the virus and its prevalence in our society. A safe return for students and the sustainability of campus life is a priority for all our members.”
Eastern Mennonite University said today that its athletics department remains committed to providing a quality student-athlete experience and will maintain team activities over the fall semester in preparation for springtime competition.
“For all of us involved in athletics at EMU, from student-athletes to coaches and fans, this announcement of the postponement of competition is difficult to hear, but we understand the rationale and the importance of the decision to the greater health of our community,” said EMU Director of Athletics Dave King.
The decision impacts nearly 40 percent of EMU’s traditional undergraduate student body, King added, and by extension, also those faculty and staff who contribute to the experience of being a Royals student-athlete.
“This decision doesn’t change our mission of providing opportunities for student-athletes to learn, lead and serve within their sport and beyond,” King said. “We know involvement in athletics and the team environment are major contributors to the well-being and health of our many student-athletes and a big part of their success in the classroom and preparation for life after college. None of these benefits are going away with this new limitation.”
As health recommendations allow and with modifications for group sizes and activities, King anticipates that EMU teams will be able to train with coaches and interact with teammates in preparation for competition in the spring semester. These opportunities include practices, skill training, leadership training and other team activities.
Continued involvement in any athletics activity is contingent upon a collaborative effort with student-athletes, staff, and other members of the campus community in following the university’s health and safety protocols.
“If there was ever a time when we needed to be of one mind and purpose, it is this fall as we work together to face the challenges of the pandemic,” King said.
Since May, a COVID-19 Athletics Action Team has been preparing for the reopening of campus and for fall semester athletics programming. The working group includes representatives of university administration, athletic administration, coaching staff, athletic training staff, medical staff and student-athletes.
The decision also has no direct impact on non-ODAC sports, such as the Royals’ women’s triathlon and men’s volleyball programs. Decisions on the structure of those seasons will be made at a later time.
EMU student-athletes were informed by their coaches about the ODAC’s decision and invited to an information meeting in the coming days.