NSIC cancels fall championships, suspends all competition through end of 2020

Times Report
Crookston Times

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference announced Thursday morning that it has cancelled fall sports championships and all athletic competition through December 31 due to the continued effects of COVID-19.

The conference, which consists of 16 teams in five states, including Minnesota Crookston, came to the decision one week after the NCAA Division II Presidents' Council decided to cancel all seven fall sports championships, while leaving decisions to play up to individual conferences.

Before the Presidents' Council's decision, the NSIC had announced its plans to delay the fall season, but nothing more.

In a press release, conference commissioner Erin Lind said that while the previous decision was made with the rationale of allowing individual campuses to reopen safely, that strategy is no longer feasible.

"Our student-athletes deserve a competitive experience that provides a greater degree of safety and certainty than current conditions would allow," Lind said. "We believe now is the right time to provide clarity to our student-athletes so we can turn our efforts towards helping institutions reopen and ensuring a safe return to campus to start the academic year."

Along with Thursday morning's press release, the conference also released an list of frequently asked questions and answers pertaining to the cancellation.

The decision has no bearing on whether student-athletes will be on campus or not during the fall. That is solely up to individual institutions, as student-athletes can continue to participate in voluntary workouts at their school's discretion.

Student-athletes are, though, allowed to opt out of participation in any activities. They will still receive athletic aid, as long as they are currently enrolled, and their NCAA eligibility status would not change unless a season takes place during the spring.

No competition against non-NSIC schools will be allowed during this time — the NSIC was one of the first conferences to cancel or limit outside competition, back in May.

The conference is also exploring the possibility of moving the cancelled competition and championships to the spring, "if it can be done reasonably and safely."

"We will work collaboratively with our membership to gain a full understanding of challenges that may arise from adding more competition to the spring semester," the release reads in part. "Our objective is to explore creative schedules and operations that would mitigate those concerns. We acknowledge that our spring sport student-athletes experienced an abrupt end to their season only a few months ago and will be mindful of that in our work."

Minnesota Crookston sports affected include men's and women's basketball, cross country and golf, as well as women's soccer, volleyball and equestrian. It is as-of-yet unclear how the decision will affect the school's two club sports, ice hockey and trap shooting, as they do not fall under NCAA or NSIC jurisdiction.

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