PAC, Waynesburg suspend fall sports due to COVID-19

Onderko: "This was not an easy decision for us."

A summer of unfavorable circumstances put the Presidents’ Athletic Conference and other collegiate conferences throughout the varying divisions of the NCAA into a challenging situation: the fate of collegiate athletics.

As of now, COVID-19 has postponed all PAC athletic competition until after Jan. 1. According to PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko, every possible consideration was taken into account in order to make the best decisions possible.

“We took a really extensive look at this,” Onderko said, “This was not an easy decision for us.”

The NCAA released a document in July that separated sports into three categories: high impact, medium impact and low impact.

“Depending on the level,” Onderko said, “there were certain recommendations of what you need to do to compete safely.”

These recommendations, however, were quite extensive.

For high impact sports like football, it was required to do a COVID-19 test for every coach, athlete, trainer, and anyone who was involved with the team at least once a week within 72 hours of competition. With the responsibility of testing every person necessary, the cost to do a single test approximated between $65 and $100 per person.

Onderko mentioned that even if schools could afford to pay for these tests, they were simply unavailable to reasonably obtain.

In addition to health and safety, Onderko said, “Legal considerations came into it every bit as much as health and safety considerations.”

On July 24, the PAC released a statement that postponed all medium to high contact sports until the spring. The possibility of low contact sports like tennis, golf, and track and field was still being considered.

After the NCAA Division III Administrative Committee released a recommendation to not have any competition in the fall, the PAC released a statement Aug. 26 that suspended all competition until next year.

“In the end, it was a decision based solely on the health and safety of our student athletes and what’s best for all the institutions in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.” said Waynesburg University athletic director Adam Jack.

Waynesburg, along with the other schools in the PAC, has been working to do its part in the midst of a cancelled sports season. Jack said three subcommittees in finance, scheduling and health and safety were created to collaborate with the conference in order to maximize the possibilities of university athletics.

As for the future of PAC athletics, although there are many factors with the virus, the PAC is planning to have sports next year.

Fall sports are scheduled to be played in the spring. Winter sports like basketball and indoor track and field are planning to start sometime after Jan. 1, with a possibility of moving back the championship dates.

The university will also have to follow state laws and regulations for facility capacities. For outdoor facilities, a maximum of 250 total people including players and coaches will be allowed, and for indoor facilities, a maximum of 25 total people will be allowed.

“The collaborative effort of all the PAC schools with Commissioner Onderko really was wonderful this summer.” Jack said, “Everybody worked together and each time we came to a hurdle, we worked together to overcome that.”