Over the weekend, the Mid-American Conference announced the postponement of all fall sports, with plans to seek opportunities to hold competitions this spring. As a member of the MAC Council of Presidents, I can tell you this was a difficult decision and one the conference leaders did not take lightly, aware of the repercussions it would have — not only for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, but also for our entire university community.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priorities have always been to protect the health and safety of our university community. We have relied on our local health department, state leaders and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to guide our decisions. Unlike classrooms, residence halls and other on-campus buildings, fields of competition rarely allow safe social distancing, and high-energy sports can complicate the safe use of masks and face coverings. As we approached the start of the fall sports season, our medical experts made it clear that postponing fall sports was the only appropriate path forward.
I know this news is disappointing, especially for our student-athletes. After all, athletics isn’t just about big competition days, although those are certainly the most visible part of any athletics program. Athletics is a year-round commitment for student-athletes. They attend workouts, practices and coaching sessions every week. They put in countless hours ahead of game days, preparing to astonish us with their skills and earn our cheers. They work equally hard in the classroom, earning a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher for more than 40 consecutive semesters. I want to assure you that although our fall sports have been postponed, CMU remains committed to our student-athletes.
We will honor their scholarships and continue to provide them the services they need to be successful. And, as we move forward, we will work with our MAC partners to seek opportunities for competitions this spring. I look forward to cheering on our student-athletes as soon as it is once again safe to do so.
It is important to recognize the impact this postponement has for our non-athlete students as well. This decision affects hundreds of students who rely on athletics for unique hands-on learning experiences, such as our athletic training and sports management students. At every event, student interns are honing their skills and knowledge of areas such as marketing, communications, broadcasting, event management and more. Our Marching Chips and members of our dance and cheer teams gain valuable performance experiences as they perform at games both at home and away. And, as importantly, our athletic events provide important social opportunities for students to connect with friends. Game days are a vital part of building our campus culture.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention the impact this decision will have on our community of faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, fans and local business partners. Our faculty and staff are some of our most enthusiastic fans, and they regularly attend events to show their support for our students. Each year, we welcome thousands of alumni back to campus to attend athletic events. They bring their families and friends and relive their favorite moments of their college years at Central. Prospective students and their families come to our campus on game days to get a sense of our school spirit. For these visitors, there is nothing quite like seeing the bleachers packed with people wearing maroon and gold, hearing the Marching Chips play the fight song, and cheering on our amazing student-athletes.
And, I know our local business community also will be affected, as many hotels, restaurants and shops benefit from the increased visitor traffic on game days. To our partners, I am sorry for the hardship this may present, and I commit to continuing to work alongside you as we navigate the challenges of this pandemic.
We continue to face challenging choices necessitated by COVID-19, we will have difficult decisions to make, some of which will be disappointing, frustrating and unpopular. Know that I, along with our university leaders and Board of Trustees, will continue to make every choice with the best interests of our community at heart. As always, health and safety must be our top priorities as we pursue our mission of excellence in education, research and service.