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SWAC announces that all fall sports will be postponed

Silhouette of american football player at stadium. Mixed media

The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced Tuesday the postponement of all scheduled fall contests, including football, along with SWAC championships, due to continuing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am heartbroken that our student-athletes will not get a chance to compete this fall, as they have put in countless hours getting ready for their seasons,” said Alabama State University director of intercollegiate athletics Jennifer Lynne Williams. “The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance and as athletic administrators our top goal is student-athlete welfare. We must continue to do our part and practice the safety guidelines set forth by the CDC, and our Return to Play plan so that we can come back stronger and healthier at the turn of the calendar year.”

The SWAC conference includes ten schools. The members in Alabama are Alabama State in Montgomery and Alabama A&M in Huntsville. The two schools play each other in the Magic City Classic in Birmingham each fall. That game, like the entire schedule for both schools, will have to be rescheduled for some time in the spring.

“Though we are not getting the outcome we set out for since the onset of these perilous times, there are still some things that we can be proud of — the determination and fighting spirit displayed in the classroom, in your communities and in the hearts of Hornets everywhere has not gone unnoticed,” Williams said. “It is still a great time to be a Hornet!”

The fall sports impacted include men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. The conference has started the process of formalizing plans to conduct a competitive schedule for fall sports during the 2021 spring semester.

The SWAC’s has tentative plans to play a seven-game football schedule beginning with an eight-week training period in January 2021. Each member institution will play a total of six conference games —  four divisional, two non-divisional — with the option to play one non-conference game.

Additional details regarding scheduling for women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country along with the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Championship game will be released at a later date.

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The SWAC released a statement announcing that fall sports teams and student-athletes will have the opportunity to attend classes and practices in preparation for a spring 2021 competitive schedule upon return to campus. Student-athletes will have the ability to participate in conditioning, strength training and practices in all sports provided all required local, state and federal health and safety guidelines are met. There have been no final decisions made regarding competitive schedules for the league’s winter sports at this time.

The conference said that the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors felt this action was necessary out of growing concern for the health, safety and well-being both mentally and physically of student-athletes, coaches, administrators, team staff, campus faculty, fans and supporters.

The conference said that the continued increase of COVID-19 cases across many portions of the league’s geographic footprint and Southern regions of the country played a significant role in the council’s decision, along with data that suggests Black communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ivy League had already made the decision to postpone fall sports to spring. The Southeastern Conference and Conference USA still are evaluating how they will proceed with fall sports amid the coronavirus global pandemic, which has already killed at least 1,325 Alabamians.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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