SYRACUSE — In an abundance of caution to protect the health and safety of students and staff, after consultation with conference leadership, the presidents of the State University of New York Athletic Conference have made the difficult decision to cancel winter sports.
“This was not an easy decision and I empathize with all of our student-athletes across the SUNYAC,” Erik Bitterbaum, the chair of the SUNYAC Presidents said. “However, despite our best efforts to plan for a winter season, our priority must be the health and safety of everyone involved with intercollegiate athletics, and our campuses as a whole.”
The decision affects athletic programs at SUNY Potsdam.
The winter sports impacted by the decision include the conference schedules and championships for men’s and women’s basketball, as well as men’s ice hockey. The championships for men’s and women’s swimming & diving and men’s and women’s indoor track & field also have been canceled.
The SUNYAC will continue internal planning for the possibility of spring sports. The decision on spring sports will be made at a future date.
The SUNYAC had made a proposal recently to have eight-game schedules, including two rounds of a postseason tournament, for men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey.
The conference was going to be split up into an East and West Division and teams were only going to play their divisional foes and none of the games would require overnight stays.
SUNY Potsdam interim athletic director Mark Misiak posted a reaction to the news in the form of a letter on the school’s athletic website.
“Today’s announcement concerning the cancellation of the winter sports seasons is something none of us involved with the SUNYAC or college athletics wished for, Misiak said. “Not many things give me more joy than seeing our talented students-athletes compete, but given the circumstances, that’s just not feasible.
A famous quote I have always loved is ‘Sport is the most important of all of life’s unimportant things.’ During these times, I think that’s more appropriate than ever.”
“For all of us who follow the Potsdam Bears, sport is a huge part of our lives,” Misiak added. “Having said that, we mustn’t forget that the health and safety of every person will always be of primary importance. It’s the most important of all the important things.
“To all of our student-athletes: I feel for you. I know this is tough to take and I know that in the short-term, nothing anyone can say or do will make this any easier. One thing I do want to say though, is thank you. Since coming back to campus in August, you’ve all been absolutely brilliant. You’ve been incredible role-models, upstanding citizens of our community and you’ve made me so proud to be part of your squad. In fact, all of our students deserve a huge round of applause for how they have handled and conducted themselves since coming back to Potsdam. I can’t say enough about how much admiration I have for all of them. We have incredible people in every building, office and corner of this campus, and as I walk across or drive through it, I really do have this feeling that we are all on the same team.”
SUNY Potsdam women’s hockey is not part of the SUNYAC but competes in the New England Women’s Hockey League so it’s winter fate is not known.
The conference consists of SUNYAC schools in other sports like Buffalo State, SUNY Cortland, Morrisville, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Plattsburgh. SUNY Canton, which is not a SUNYAC school, is also in the conference.