TROY — The Liberty League, which includes Clarkson and St. Lawrence athletic teams, will begin its fall season no earlier than Sept. 26, according to a plan for returning to competition approved by the league and announced Tuesday.
Under the plan, schools will participate primarily against fellow Liberty League members, while the opportunity for a limited number of nonleague competitions are planned followed phased resocialization plans enacted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I firmly believe this plan allows us to work through the uncertainty of the situation and gives us a chance to complete the fall season as safely as possible,” St. Lawrence director of athletics Bob Durocher said in a letter to student-athletes published on the SLU web site.
Teams must complete the first two phases of guidelines outlined by the NCAA’s Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport prior to participating in games.
The majority of Division III programs fielded by Clarkson and St. Lawrence compete in the Liberty League, including in the fall men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, and for St. Lawrence, football and field hockey.
One Liberty League participant, Rensselaer, announced last week it will not play sports this fall.
“These are unprecedented times, not only in collegiate athletics, but also in higher education,” said Liberty League commissioner Tracy King. “As our member institutions develop plans to reopen campuses and resume athletic competition, we recognize the autonomy of our institutions to make decisions that are in the best interests of their campus communities. We respect and support those decisions and understand that circumstances may vary from school to school.”
The Liberty League said that member schools will be permitted two additional nonleague competitions provided opponents are following comparable health and safety protocols.
Teams competing in individual sports, such as golf and cross country, will compete in smaller events with fewer competitors.
“A schedule focused primarily on playing league members will aid in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while still providing a quality competitive season for our student-athletes,” King said.
The NCAA has already announced plans to hold its fall sports championships as originally scheduled. No decision has been made regarding spectators at events. A league decision on spectators will be made by Sept. 1, the league said.
No decisions have been made regarding winter sports. Both Clarkson and St. Lawrence participate in Division I men’s and women’s hockey and are scheduled to begin seasons in October. SLU said that ECAC Hockey institutions are discussing the 2020-21 schedules.
Durocher said that plans are being developed for healthy-and-safety protocols at SLU athletic facilities, including team locker rooms. Policies regarding testing, re-testing and in the event an athlete, coach or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 are also being created.
SLU will recquire training and educational sessions for all athletes.
“The lack of understanding or execution could lead to infection and a termination of our playing seasons,” Durocher said.
Liberty League member schools are Bard College, Clarkson, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Ithaca College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence, Union College, University of Rochester and Vassar College.