AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - The Mid-America Conference postponed all fall sports and the MAC championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic in what Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher calls “simply a miserable decision.”
Tom Arth, the head football coach at The University of Akron says the decision was difficult to hear, but not unexpected. He says it was difficult to break the news to his team, but he was proud of how they responded, “The response and reaction from our team was so encouraging and you know really very inspiring for us. Just the realization that our players are looking at this as an opportunity, an opportunity to improve in so many ways.”
The Akron Zips had a winless season last year and now hope they can take this time to condition and train and improve their record.
The MAC made the announcement on Saturday morning that was unanimously decided by the Council of Presidents.
MAC members intend to pick up the affected sports seasons in the spring semester, which include:
- men and women’s cross country
- field hockey
- men and women’s soccer
- women’s volleyball
Coach Arth feels the decision was the right one because protecting the health and safety of the players and coaches is paramount.
“We are very confident we can train in our bubble at The University of Akron in our football program, that we can train very safely. But we can not say for certain that we can keep them safe with the travel, with the competition, with all that a season brings,” Coach Arth said.
Kent State’s football team was looking forward to this season after winning their first-ever bowl game last year. KSU issued a statement saying: “We understand this decision is heartbreaking for our student-athletes, coaches and trainers who work tirelessly to represent Kent State with excellence, as well as our alumni and fans whose support for our Golden Flashes is unwavering. The risks associated with athletic competition present greater challenges to maintaining safety standards than daily campus activities.”
The MAC is the first Football Bowl Subdivision that has opted out of playing this season.
According to the announcement, there have been no decisions made regarding winter sports.
According to the Associated Press, “MAC schools rely heavily on revenue from playing road games against power conference teams. Most of those games were canceled when the Power Five went to exclusively or mostly conference games. Without them, the strain of trying to implement all that it would take to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic became too much.”
“The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being, an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role,” said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. “Clearly, we are charting a conservative path – and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group. It is a decision that affects roughly 2,500 student-athletes who live for the moment to compete. Those opportunities and moments are fleeting, and our student-athletes have a limited window in which to showcase their talent, passion, and drive for excellence. I am heartbroken we are in this place. However, I take comfort and want to give assurance to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans that we have their best interest at heart, and we will make every effort to provide competitive opportunities in the spring.”
”This decision is in the best interest of all Mid-American Conference student-athletes, athletics departments and university communities,” said MAC Council of Presidents’ Chair and University at Buffalo President Dr. Satish K. Tripathi. “The Council of Presidents has always maintained that the health, safety and well-being of everyone within our conference, especially our student-athletes, is our top priority.”
”This was not an easy decision but one that we had to make in the best interest of our student-athletes, coaches and institutions,” said MAC Chair of the Council of Director of Athletics and Miami Director of Athletics David Sayler. “It is our responsibility to give our student-athletes an experience that allows them to participate at the highest level in the safest manner possible. After consulting with our Medical Advisory Panel, we felt there were just too many unknowns surrounding the pandemic for us to proceed with the fall season.”
The 12 teams the MAC is made of includes the:
- Akron Zips
- Ball State Cardinals
- Bowling Green Falcons
- Buffalo Bulls
- Central Michigan Chippewas
- Eastern Michigan Eagles
- Kent State Golden Flashes
- Miami University Redhawks
- Northern Illinois Huskies
- Ohio Bobcats
- Toledo Rockets
- Western Michigan Broncos
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