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Big East cancels all fall sports

New York — The Big East Conference announced Wednesday that fall sports will not be held in 2020 due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference had scheduled conference-only competition earlier this summer, decided that just wasn't possible after consulting with the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, an advisory group of administrators, doctors, athletic trainers, student-athletes and national experts in global pandemics and infectious diseases.

The Big East said it will look into alternative options to play fall events during the spring of 2021.

"The decision to not hold fall sports competition was not made lightly," said Big East chairman and Villanova president  the Reverend Peter M. Donohue in a release. "Athletics play an integral role in the student, alumni and fan experience at each of our institutions, and we were all hoping to allow the fall seasons to move forward. However, given the guidance of the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, this decision, while disappointing, was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff in mind. The well-being of our community members are, and will continue to be, our priority and focus."

UConn, which officially returned to the Big East this summer, is a member in all sports except football, which was going to play its first season as an independent before opting to cancel its 2020 season last week. Big East fall sports include men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, volleyball and field hockey.

"I fully support the difficult but necessary decision made by the Big East presidents to postpone fall sports competition," UConn athletic director David Benedict said. "Our student-athletes take great pride in competing but, in speaking to many of them in last several days, I know they understand this decision was made with their health and well-being at top of mind.

"We remain committed to providing a world-class academic and athletic experience to all our student-athletes while also ensuring a safe and supportive environment on campus."

Added Big East commissioner Val Ackerman, "This very difficult decision came after an exhaustive review by our presidents and athletics directors and followed consideration of NCAA guidance, COVID-19 case counts and trend lines nationally and in Big East communities, and the many unknowns surrounding testing availability, turnaround time and travel restrictions in our 11 locales. We take pride in the high-level competition and experiences we provide to our fall sports student-athletes, and we share their deep disappointment that this will not be a normal year.

"Our plans for men's and women's basketball and other sports are unaffected at this time."

During the fall months, Big East student-athletes will be allowed to participate in various team activities, such as practices, strength and conditioning sessions, and team meetings, consistent with individual campus policies, public health guidelines and NCAA and Conference regulations.


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