Citing COVID-19 related health and safety concerns posed to student-athletes, coaches, and support staff, College of the Canyons teams will not participate in the upcoming California Community College Athletic Association Spring I 2021 season.
The decision, announced to student-athletes on Thursday, means that COC will not compete in fall/winter sports during the first scheduled section of the spring 2021 season, which was scheduled to begin in January.
COC athletic programs that traditionally compete in fall sports include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
“This is a decision that was not entered into lightly,” COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook said. “After several months of discussion and careful consideration regarding the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff, their families, and the entire campus community, and based on the unpredictability of this virus, we made the difficult decision to opt-out of the upcoming spring 1 season of competition.”
The CCCAA’s adopted COVID-19 contingency plan for spring competition called for traditional fall sports programs to play a 70 percent season, made up of only regional conference opponents, during the spring 2021 semester.
Under this plan, teams would have been able to resume practices on Jan. 18 with competition slated to begin on Feb. 5. The football season would have kicked off on Feb. 13. Those tentative dates were also contingent upon the state and county health guidelines handed down to each host institution.
A wide range of issues was considered in the decision, including the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in L.A. County; the need to provide testing for student-athletes, coaches, support staff and officials; the potential for positive tests and the need for ongoing contact tracing; cleaning protocols for equipment and athletic facilities; transportation to and from road contests; exposure and potential quarantine of athletic department staff.
“Hopefully making this announcement now will give our student-athletes the ability to begin weighing their spring semester options, academically and athletically, in order to make the best possible decision regarding their future,” said Chuck Lyon, Dean of Physical Education, Kinesiology & Athletics and Athletic Director at the college. “It will also allow those coaches who have had their programs affected to definitively begin making plans for a fall 2021 season.”
Currently, the college’s opt-out decision only applies to traditional fall/winter sports.
All CCCAA member institutions have until Feb. 26, 2021, to make their decision regarding the Spring II 2021 season, which would play host to traditional spring sports.
At COC those programs include baseball, men’s golf, softball, men’s and women’s swim & dive, men’s and women’s track & field, and women’s tennis.
Practices could potentially begin on March 27 with competition starting April 10, assuming it is safe to do so based on state and local health guidelines.
“We will continue to have internal discussions and monitor state and county health guidelines, and in order to assess the feasibility of competing in the Spring II season,” said Lyon. “It has always been our hope to see Cougar student-athletes competing, in some form, during the spring 2021 semester.”
COC athletics programs have been out of action since early March following an initial postponement, and subsequent cancellation, of the spring 2020 season of competition due to the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
That cancellation also included the halting of all nontraditional seasons and practices outside of regularly scheduled classes. Additionally, postseason and statewide awards were not presented for the 2020 season.
Despite those cancellations and the disruptions faced by student-athletes as the college pivoted to a remote-delivery format, COC saw 85 student-athletes, with a combined GPA of 3.3, earn an associate degree and/or transfer to a four-year school as part of the college’s 2020 graduating class.