On Thursday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that all winter and spring championships were canceled due to concerns of COVID-19.
The decision had a huge impact on the Delta State University women’s basketball team and the men’s and women’s swim teams. The swim teams were in day two of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving National Champions in Geneva, Ohio, while the Lady Statesmen were in Cleveland, Tenn. getting ready to compete in the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament that was scheduled to start today against Eckerd before the event was cancelled.
The sports currently going on right now at DSU are golf, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball. With the spring championships being cancelled, softball and baseball won’t have their World Series Tournaments, and golf and tennis won’t have their national tournaments.
Delta State University Director of Athletics Mike Kinnison said this is a difficult time for the programs at DSU.
“The uncertainty is very frustrating,” Kinnison said. “The reward of practice and preparation is having the opportunity to compete and win a championship. They do not want to lose that opportunity. They also understand the severity of this situation and the adjustments that are necessary.”
Kinnison said the biggest thing he wants to see out of the coaches on staff at this time is leadership.
“There are some things that are out of our control,” Kinnison said. “The health and welfare of our student-athletes is our first priority. This is a difficult time for them and the leadership our coaches provide during this time will be crucial to helping them work through the challenges these decisions bring.”
Kinnison said everyone is urged to,” Practice sanitation and hygiene, avoid larger assembly gatherings when possible, and get medical attention at earliest signs of illness.”
Because of concerns of COVID-19, policies have been into place by the university in regards to sporting events.
“Limited attendance with only necessary staff, family members, and game day personnel,” Kinnison said. “We will contact our season ticket holders and offer credit toward future ticket purchases to show our appreciation for them working through this time with us.”
The Delta State University tennis teams played their tennis match against Carson-Newman in Jefferson City, Tenn. Thursday. DSU’s golf tournament with Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Ark. set for Mar. 23-24 has been cancelled.
DSU head golf coach Easton Key is heartbroken by the decision made by the NCAA.
“As a coach, I completely understand and agree that things needed to be put on hold to keep the virus from spreading,” Key said. “The health of our student-athletes and students in general is the biggest importance.
“However, I do think that we could have had a postponement like other sports organizations for a given period of time and then reassess the situation going forward. That hope that things could have potentially been resolved and championships continued was all we could ask for. To have the NCAA cancel all championships instead, is gut wrenching and saddening and I hope that it’s not too late to have the situation reassessed in the future.”
There still could be more changes. The Gulf South Conference is currently meeting this morning to decide the fate of the rest of the sports for the season in league play.
If it turns out that an athlete has played his or her last event for the year at DSU, Key hopes the NCAA will not let athletes lose a year of eligibility.
“I have no idea what will happen with eligibility for seniors or any student-athletes,” Key said. “I think that there is a case to be made for those that lost the end of their season or had it cut short as it was just getting started. I am not sure how the NCAA will rule this unprecedented situation but I do hope that all student-athletes that have had the end of their college careers taken away from them will have the opportunity to go out the way every class was able to do before them.”