In response to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 virus, the members of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) are suspending fall sports competition for the 2020 season. In addition, the winter sports conference and non-conference schedules will be delayed until Jan. 1, 2021.
The decision was made by the SUNYAC Presidents in consultation with the SUNYAC Board of Directors on Monday, July 20. The SUNYAC Board of Directors is composed of the director of athletics from each of the 10 member institutions — Brockport, Buffalo State, Cortland, Fredonia, Geneseo, New Paltz, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh and Potsdam.
“It is with deep regret that we have to come out to announce the suspension of fall sports, as well as a delay in winter sport activity,” said Cortland Director of Athletics Mike Urtz '94, M '00. “My heart really goes out to our student-athletes and our coaches affected here. I hope we can all work together here at Cortland to support one another through all of this. We can and will get through this. As I mentioned last week with our football announcement, we still hope to conduct permissible activities with the teams including workouts, modified practices and educational programming. Our intention is to allow our great coaches to continue to help our student-athletes grow in the Cortland way and continue with their passion for sport.”
As a result of this announcement, Cortland’s entire fall sports competition season has been canceled. Seven of Cortland’s nine fall sports — men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball — compete in the SUNYAC. Women’s golf is a member of the Northeast Women’s Golf Conference, and that league anticipates moving its league championship tournament to the spring, while Cortland’s football team is an affiliate member of the Empire 8 conference and had its season suspended last week. The SUNYAC announced earlier this year that the women’s tennis league schedule was shifting to the spring season.
"My heart breaks for our players, especially our seniors," said SUNY Cortland football head coach Curt Fitzpatrick. "When we left for spring break back in March and found out that we would not be returning the rest of the spring semester our focus shifted to making the best out of any opportunities that we were presented with. Our plan was to be ready when we are called upon, and while that won't be this fall like we had hoped, it will be sometime – and we'll be ready. We did not blink in the face of that adversity, and we won't now either."
Cortland’s winter sports include: men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s ice hockey; men’s and women’s swimming and diving; men’s and women’s indoor track and field; women’s gymnastics; and wrestling. Three of those teams do not compete in the SUNYAC — women’s ice hockey (Northeast Women’s Hockey League), wrestling (Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference) and women’s gymnastics (National Collegiate Gymnastics Association) — but will still be delayed from competing until January.
While no competition will be held the remainder of the calendar year, there is still hope that other team activities and practice sessions will be able to be conducted for fall and winter teams. Those details will be worked out as the school year approaches.
“As a former student-athlete, I empathize with the disappointment our students must feel not being able to compete this fall,” said Dr. Erik Bitterbaum, SUNY Cortland’s president and the chair of the SUNYAC presidents. “But our priority is the health and safety of everyone involved with intercollegiate athletics, and we will continue to plan for a safe return to competition at the appropriate time.”
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