Coronavirus, Field Hockey, Soccer, Sports

Patriot League announces cancelation of fall sports

As collegiate sports navigate a state of turmoil, the Patriot League announced Monday all fall sports competitions and championships will be canceled. 

The majority of Boston University Athletics teams belong to the Patriot League conference, excluding men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s crew and women’s lightweight crew.

The league stated in a press release that while losing out on a season will be disappointing for coaches, student athletes and fans, the decision was made for the best interest of public health.

The Patriot League has canceled all fall sports, meaning the Boston University men’s and women’s soccer teams, along with field hockey, will not be able to compete when the upcoming academic year begins. ANGELA YANG/ DFP FILE

BU President Robert Brown wrote in an email to the BU community Monday that traveling to other campuses for competitions is challenging, especially given that not all institutions will have the same health and testing protocols.

“We know that our athletes are exceptionally fit and as a group not in a high-risk category,” Brown wrote. “But the possibility of transmission related to travel and competition is what makes the decision to suspend competition this fall a painful necessity.”

The sports at BU that will be impacted are field hockey, men’s soccer and women’s soccer, all of which play their primary season in the fall. 

BU field hockey head coach Sally Starr said she feels the Patriot League made the right decision, especially given the recent rise of coronavirus cases in the U.S. 

“With the [COVID-19] cases spiking throughout the country right now, the return to play was becoming more and more problematic,” Starr said. “I totally understand the decision that was made, and support the decision that was made.”

Starr said the league’s announcement is not surprising considering other conferences, most notably the Ivy League, had already canceled fall sports. She said she believes additional conferences will be announcing the same decision as time goes on. 

Terrier men’s soccer coach Kevin Nylen said he was not surprised by the decision and is confident more conferences will be cancelling their fall athletics. 

Nylen said he sympathizes with all athletes who have had their season taken away. 

“I feel for every student athlete,” Nylen said, “whatever sport they play.”

However, Nylen said he supports the decision and said health and safety should always be the top priority, especially during such complicated times.

“The No. 1 concern for presidents, athletic directors, anybody on a campus is the health and safety of every person,” Nylen said. “As much as we want to be involved in sport, I think these are unchartered, unprecedented times, and we’ll just continue to follow what we need to do to get back to playing sport.”

Despite the cancellation of games between schools, the Patriot League will still support practices, including strength training and conditioning, for fall sports teams. 

Brown wrote that all BU fall athletes will continue to practice and train in “very controlled environments.”

Starr said she is excited for her team to get back together in person, as BU plans to reopen its residential campus in the Fall. This, she said, provides her squad an opportunity to bond and continue nourishing their love of field hockey. 

“One of our team mantras for our team culture is, ‘Play with joy,’” Starr said. “To be able to get back out on New Balance Field this fall will be a very blissful occurrence for us.”

On top of permitting practices this fall, the Patriot League has also stated it is committed to “exploring creative approaches and alternatives,” like playing in the spring instead, to provide some later competition opportunities for fall athletes. 

BU women’s soccer head coach Nancy Feldman said she supports such an approach.

“If it is safe to do so, I would be thrilled at this point to have our fall be our non-traditional season and our spring to be our traditional season,” Feldman said. “That would be fine with me.” 

As of now, all winter and spring sports are still set to play, but a final decision will be made at a later date, according to the Patriot League press release. 

Meanwhile, BU’s most popular sport, ice hockey, is still awaiting a decision. That will come from the Hockey East Association, not the Patriot League.


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