The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is composed of colleges across Minnesota, including St. Olaf, Carleton, Gustavus Adolphus, Macalester, University of St. Thomas, Bethel University, Augsburg, Concordia, Hamline, St. Catherine, St. John’s and St. Benedict. Unfortunately, many fall sport seasons have been affected by COVID-19, and there may be more changes to come in the spring.
While some sports teams continue to practice this fall, all competitions that were originally scheduled for the fall season have been postponed. One of the first seasons to be postponed was football, as the contact between players categorizes it as ‘high risk.’ Moderate risk sports, including volleyball, cross country, and soccer, were delayed as well. And finally, the low risk sports, golf and tennis, were postponed. These fall sports seasons are now scheduled to take place next year, in the spring of 2021.
Winter sports like hockey, basketball, swimming and diving and indoor track and field have been delayed to January. It is not known yet if spring sports will go on as planned in 2021 or be affected by the large number of fall sports moving to the spring season.
The decision of the MIAC to delay competition was in accordance with a recommendation from the NCAA Administrative Committee as well as the Minnesota Department of Health’s guidance. The delay allows for more time for colleges to adjust to the new guidelines and protocols, and make plans for upcoming seasons.
Despite COVID-19, all MIAC schools are allowed to practice and train with campus and NCAA protocols in place.
Other colleges like Carleton have also started athletic practices while taking precautions, such as limiting the number of athletes practicing in close proximity and providing evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test at the start of practice. In addition, all of the athletic equipment will be sanitized frequently before and after practices.
St John’s University, in St. Joseph, has outlined a detailed COVID-19 plan in order to continue athletic training. Their three phase plan includes stricter limits on sport practices and screenings upon arrival to athletic facilities. Phase one consists of a two week period of limited practices, with phase two consisting of teams practicing all together, with phase three being the continuation of games and meets.
The University of St. Thomas is continuing with athletic practices, but noted “limited participation in practice and training during the fall of 2020.”
Bethel University in St Paul has added mandatory health screenings before each practice, required face masks for coaches, frequent cleaning of facilities and limited capacity in the fitness center and locker rooms as necessary COVID-19 precautions.