Franklin Countys First News

NAC cancels basketball season

WATERVILLE - The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Presidents' Council, of which the University of Maine at Farmington is a member, cancelled its basketball season due to the pandemic.

When the Council met in November, presidents offered support for tentative plans to conduct winter sports (men's and women's basketball and swimming & diving) during the spring semester, but opted to wait until January to make a final decision. Due to the state of the pandemic at this time, presidents determined that it is not feasible to conduct a NAC regular or postseason basketball schedule with members spread across three states.

Last fall, the conference developed tentative plans to begin conference basketball games on Jan. 29, 2021. That date was then pushed back after several institutions adjusted dates for the start of second semester. A variety of creative schedule options were crafted in the hopes that NAC basketball could safely be conducted. Ultimately, presidents determined the best course of action is to forgo a traditional conference schedule this year while allowing schools autonomy to play games at their own discretion.

The health and safety of student athletes, coaches, staff, and local communities remains a priority. As such, members agreed to adopt common safety practices for competition in addition to adhering to NCAA guidelines, and will prioritize fellow conference schools when developing independent competition schedules.

"We appreciate the hard work done by athletics administrators, athletic trainers, and conference office staff to develop schedule options and safety protocols with respect to contesting a conference basketball season," said Presidents' Council Chair Ray Rice, also the president at UMaine-Presque Isle. "The Council ultimately determined the safest course of action is to allow each school to provide competitive opportunities for student athletes in a way that works best for each campus."

The first official NAC Swimming & Diving Championship has been postponed until next winter. The first-ever NAC swimming & diving event, a virtual invitational, is slated for March 13-14, 2021. The five sponsoring institutions plan to compete either regionally or in their own campus pools and combine results virtually to determine overall event winners and team champions. A traditional three-day championship is planned for February 4-6, 2022.

Presidents previously endorsed plans for playing traditional fall sports on a smaller scale throughout the spring semester, with the understanding that adjustments may be needed. Fall sports in the NAC include men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, and women's tennis. Though men's golf and women's tennis are typically conducted in the fall at the conference level, they are spring NCAA championship sports. As a result, NAC championships are planned for this spring in those two sports.

Previously approved spring sport schedules and championships remain in place while contingency planning is underway in the event adjustments are needed. Spring sports include baseball, softball, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's outdoor track & field, and men's tennis. Presidents will reconvene in mid-to-late February to determine if changing course is needed for swimming & diving, fall, or spring sports.

Eligible student athletes in all sports benefit from a blanket waiver in Division III this year. They will not be charged with a season of participation, regardless of the level of practices or games that do occur throughout the year. Student athletes also have two extra semesters to take advantage of extended eligibility.

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