RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Following a Friday evening meeting of the Great American Conference’s Council of Presidents, the league will suspend all fall and winter sports – basketball, cross country, football, soccer and volleyball – and the two-semester sports of golf and tennis through December 31.
The Council made its recommendation in response to last week’s directive from the NCAA Board of Governors regarding additional requirements as well the cancellation of 2020 NCAA Division II Fall Championships.
“This was a very difficult decision for our campus and especially our student-athletes and coaches,” said Southeastern President Thomas Newsom. “We are disappointed that we will not have Savage Storm athletic competitions this fall. This effects not only the student-athletes, but a wider group of students that includes cheer, dance, and the SE Marching Band. In concern for the safety of our student-athletes and our community, and with the recent guidelines from the NCAA, our ability to compete has become unrealistic. We are still extremely excited about our student-athletes starting fall classes next week and the opportunities to engage them on campus. This decision does give us the ability to conduct fall practices for all of our teams, and that is our plan in preparation for resuming competition in the spring.”
“I am disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, campus community and fans,” said Southeastern Director of Athletics Keith Baxter. “As we have worked diligently to attempt to find a way to compete this fall in a safe environment. The leadership exhibited by the GAC Athletic Administrators and Presidents has been great in trying to find an avenue for competition but the requirements set forth by the NCAA Board of Governors make it difficult to impossible for Division 2 Universities to compete this fall. With that being said, we are committed to providing as positive an experience as possible to our student-athletes, keeping them engaged, on track to receive their degrees, and ready to compete when we are allowed. All of our energies will be put into serving the student-athletes needs and exploring opportunities to compete this spring.”
“We are disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, and communities,” GAC Commissioner Will Prewitt said. “Our membership’s presidents and athletic administrators did not arrive at this difficult decision lightly. Our hopes and work to date have been to proceed with fall competition following federal and state health guidance. However, recent decisions by the NCAA Board of Governors make this possibility unrealistic. We now turn our focus as a conference on how to best support our student-athletes during this challenging time and craft options that will allow them to experience meaningful and safe competition during spring 2021.”
All NCAA athletically related activities (in all GAC sports), including in-season practices, out-of-season practices, weight training, team athletically related meetings, and voluntary workouts led by staff or in institutional facilities shall be permitted this fall based on each institution’s ability to comply with the recent NCAA Board of Governors directive.
The suspension of our fall and winter sports through December 31 is a heartbreak for all of us,” said Harding President and GAC Council of Presidents Chairman Dr. Bruce McLarty. “Our athletes and college athletics are important to every GAC campus. The presidents are continuing our work to ensure that our student-athletes have a great college experience this year, in spite of the challenges we are facing.
The GAC will continue to evaluate NCAA, federal, state, and local developments and will provide updated revisions as further information becomes available. The league will announce revised schedules at a later date.