By Skyler Stark-Ragsdale | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
“Flexibility is one of the top five words right now,” said Lesley Irvine, Director of Colorado College Athletics.
When asked in an interview about the potential for a fall sports season at Colorado College, Irvine said CC Athletics has yet to make a decision.
“Most of the conversations that are happening right now — it’s more scenario setting, more ‘how would we begin to make those decisions,’” she said.
Irvine added that it is difficult for CC Athletics to make any decisions regarding the fall until they know if students will be back on campus, a decision that will be announced on July 1, according to President Jill Tiefenthaler.
Irvine said there are many different institutions that factor into the conversation in the weeks and months leading up to a potential decision about fall sports.
“At CC, we’re monitoring state and federal guidance around the COVID-19 response, and then you’ll see the current restrictions and decisions that we’re making are reflecting [that] guidance,” she said.
She added that the progress of NCAA Division I Football over the summer may serve as a “trickle down” example for many other fall sports.
For the moment, Irvine said CC is using the summer period to give them the “best chance” at the fall as she noted it would be “really unfortunate” if the College started to relax protective measures and saw a flare in cases.
Greg Capell, Senior Associate Athletic Director of CC Athletics, said the prospect of a 2020 fall sports season will be “a decision that’s got a lot of layers.”
Like Irvine, Capell said CC Athletics is trying to put themselves in a position where, if NCAA athletics do happen, they will be “ready to go.” He said CC Athletics have been discussing three main scenarios at this point, regarding the fall.
“Obviously,” he said, “the first one is starting on time. That’s number one.”
According to Capell, the second scenario they discussed was the prospect of a delayed start in the fall. If this were the case, they would be “committed to conference play,” at the very least.
If this happens, for example in the case of soccer, he said they would need to be wary of “not cramming in three games a week and putting people at risk.”
Finally, Capell said he has heard discussions on a national level about postponing NCAA fall seasons until the spring.
“What if you had to play all of your sports after January 1, how would we do that,” he said. “That would mean we’d have Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse and Men’s and Women’s Soccer all going on at the same time, and Lesley and I were talking about it and I said, ‘you know what, we’d figure it out.’”
Though, Capell said, “at this point, these are all just scenarios. We need to do our best to be prepared for anything.”
He added that CC Athletics takes part in three different conferences: the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and the Mountain West Conference (MWC), all of which are moving on different timelines.
“What happens, for example … if the schools in Texas say, ‘Hey, we’re ready to go, we’ve been given the approval to do it, and we’re going’ … and we say, well we have not, yet,” he said.
Despite the challenges the CC Athletics is facing, Capell remains determined that they will find a solution.
“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to try to have our sports teams up and running in the fall, if humanly possible. If we get the go ahead, we’re going to be ready to go. But there’s a lot of planning right now, and a lot of waiting,” he said.
Tom Monagan, Head Athletic Trainer at CC, said the athletic department has been in contact with the Sports Science Institute for the NCAA, the Chief Medical Officer for the NCAA, an individual on the COVID-19 Advisory Panel of the NCAA, and some high ranking doctors to discuss the potential for medical clearances this fall.
However, Monagan said the discussion surrounding COVID-19 is constantly changing. What he heard six weeks ago, he said, is already different than what he is hearing now.