WAC, UTRGV Cancel Fall Sports Due To COVID-19 Concerns
RIO GRANDE VALLEY – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Department of Intercollegiate Athletics learned on Thursday that, due to health and safety concerns for student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Board of Directors voted to suspend all fall championship and non-championship athletics competition through the end of the calendar year.
This means UTRGV will not participate in fall competition in the sports of volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer, cross country, golf, tennis and baseball.
If NCAA Championships for volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and cross country are moved to the spring and it is feasible, the WAC plans to conduct the respective sports during the same time frame.
The golf, tennis and baseball teams, which have their championship segments in the spring, are currently scheduled to resume competition no earlier than Jan. 1.
Men’s and women’s basketball competition will be postponed through the end of October pending Board discussion on winter athletics competition.
Conditioning, strength training and other practice opportunities in all sports will be permitted per institutional discretion.
“This was a difficult decision, but one made with our student-athletes’ health and welfare at the forefront,” UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque said. “The last few months have dealt us considerable adversity, but I am confident that we will work through these challenging times and emerge stronger. The future remains bright for UTRGV Athletics and the Rio Grande Valley.”
"It obviously was a difficult decision, and not one made lightly," WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. "But it was one made after extensive discussion and consideration of all relevant factors as well as input from conference administrators and the Medical Advisory Committee. The health and safety of our student-athletes, the many others associated with our athletics programs and all those in our campus environments always will be the highest priority.”
The WAC is one of 18 NCAA Division I conferences to suspend fall competition, accounting for 56.25 percent of the 32 conferences, along with the America East, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big South, Big Ten, Big West, Colonial Athletic Association, Ivy League, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Mountain West, Northeast, Pac-12, Patriot League, Summit League and SWAC. Additionally, Eastern Washington (Big Sky) and Old Dominion (Conference USA) have canceled fall competition, making UTRGV one of 193 institutions, accounting for 53.76 percent of the 359 NCAA Division I members, that has announced it will not participate in fall competition due to the pandemic.
The NCAA announced on Aug. 5 that, if 50 percent or more of eligible teams in a particular sport in a division cancel their fall season, there will be no fall NCAA championship in that sport in that division. If fall sports championships are postponed in any division, a decision to conduct that championship at a later date will be based upon the scientific data available at that time regarding COVID-19, along with other considerations. The divisions must determine by Aug. 21 whether their respective fall sports seasons and NCAA championships should occur this year.
All five of the fall sports in which UTRGV competes have crossed the 50 percent threshold, including men’s cross country (52.91 percent), women’s cross country (53.45 percent), men’s soccer (64.53 percent), women’s soccer (53.43 percent) and volleyball (52.57 percent).
“Our primary focus continues to be the development of our student-athletes – mind, body and spirit,” Conque said. “While today’s decision delays competition, our commitment to our young people has never been stronger. We will continue to invest in the academic and athletic careers of our student-athletes and we all look forward to the day we return to competition and unite with our fans and campus community.”
UTRGV volleyball season ticket holders that have already paid can choose to either donate the balance to the V Club, receive a credit that is good for 2021 volleyball season tickets, or receive a refund. Season ticket holders also have the option of deferring their decision until it is known whether there will be a spring volleyball season.