NAC cancels fall conference sports

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WATERVILLE – The North Atlantic Conference has cancelled conference games and championships for the fall season. The decision will impact collegiate sports including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis, men’s golf and women’s volleyball.

In a statement released Monday, the NAC said that following months of consideration, it had become clear that a traditional NAC experience would not be possible this fall. The conference office and institutional leaders will continue to support each other in providing a meaningful and fulfilling student athlete experience.

NAC includes a dozen college programs, including the University of Maine at Farmington. The conference cancelled spring conference play in mid-March, as part of an initial wave of cancellations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a difficult day for NAC students, coaches and staff,” said Commissioner Marcella Zalot. “I want to thank the athletics administrators and leadership at each institution for their efforts to try and play a NAC fall season. What we wished we could do and ultimately what we are able to do are just in two different places right now. I look forward to the day when the resilience and perseverance of this generation of students prevails and they are rewarded with the thrill and camaraderie of NAC competition.”

Each member school may choose to safely conduct athletics at their own discretion, the NAC release noted. Activities are not limited by the conference, and may include practices, strength and conditioning, inter-squad events and intercollegiate contests where safe to do so. Collectively, the conference will continue to explore the practicality of conducting fall sport activities in the spring semester if that becomes an option.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of all those who take part in athletics within the NAC while allowing for competition among institutions when it is safe to do so,” said Raymond Rice, President of UMaine-Presque Isle and chair of the NAC Presidents’ Council. “While it won’t be a traditional experience for us this fall, we know how important it is to have a plan in place that provides member schools with options to conduct athletics in a way that supports the well-being of student athletes and athletic staff.”

Division III recently announced that eligible student athletes whose teams compete in 50 percent or less of the sport’s maximum contests or dates of competition during the upcoming year will not be charged with a season of participation. Similarly, eligible student athletes who don’t compete, or compete in a limited fashion, will not be charged with semesters of enrollment. Put simply, student athletes may practice and compete this coming year without compromising a year of eligibility.

No decision regarding winter or spring sports has been made at this time.

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