Big East officially cancels fall sports season


Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Big East conference logo displayed in place of the DePaul Athletics logo underneath the jumbotron for the Big East Championship at Wintrust Arena.

The Big East announced on Wednesday that all fall sports are canceled due to the increasing concerns of the coronavirus pandemic. The conference also said they will look for options to play fall sports during the spring of 2021.

Sports that are impacted by this decision at DePaul are men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and volleyball. Fall competition for sports in their non-traditional seasons, which includes baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s tennis, will not be held.

“While we are disappointed to put our fall sports on hold until the spring this is the best course of action given the continued circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic,” DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said in a statement. “We know our fall sport student-athletes and coaches are resilient and will continue to train and prepare this fall for their safe return to competition with our sister institutions in the Big East Conference. Our staff will continue to utilize all the best practices to support our student-athletes as we all work through these challenging times together.”

The Big East joins a growing list of conferences, including the Big Ten and the Pac-12, to cancel fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike some other conferences, however, the Big East does not hold football competitions.

In June, the Big East announced a COVID-19 task force that would help the conference in safely resuming and conducting athletic activities. In the conference’s announcement to cancel fall sports, they said the task force helped to make this decision.

“The decision to not hold fall sports competition was not made lightly,” said chair of the Big East Board of Directors and Villanova University president the reverend Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. “Athletics play an integral role in the student, alumni and fan experience at each of our institutions, and we were all hoping to allow the fall seasons to move forward.

“However, given the guidance of the Big East COVID-19 Task Force, this decision, while disappointing, was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff in mind. The well-being of our community members are, and will continue to be, our priority and focus.”

While there will be no games taking place in the fall, Big East student-athletes will still be allowed to participate in various team activities such as practices, strength and conditioning sessions, and team meetings, consistent with individual campus policies, public health guidelines and NCAA and Conference regulations.

Prior to canceling fall sports, the Big East canceled all non-conference games for the fall and was only going to start conference games in October. The plan was to have the conference split into two different geographical regions, with DePaul playing in the Midwest division.

The decision to go to two different regions for the fall season was an attempt to limit travel for teams, and keep each school closer to home. With the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases in some areas of the country, the conference decided to cancel the season.

DePaul announced on Wednesday that most fall quarter classes will be held online and residence halls will be limited to certain students. Student-athletes will be allowed to stay on-campus for workouts and practices.

“This very difficult decision came after an exhaustive review by our Presidents and Athletics Directors and followed consideration of NCAA guidance, COVID-19 case counts and trend lines nationally and in Big East communities, and the many unknowns surrounding testing availability, turnaround time and travel restrictions in our 11 locales,” Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman said.

At this moment, winter and spring sports are not impacted and decisions for those sports will be made at a later date.