The Great American Conference on Friday voted to suspend all sports through the end of the year, according to news releases from the Great American Conference and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
The Great American Conference’s Council of Presidents made its recommendation in response to last week’s directive from the NCAA Board of Governors regarding additional requirements as well the cancellation of 2020 NCAA Division II Fall Championships, according to the GAC news release.
All fall and winter sports scheduled to begin prior to January 1 are impacted by this decision. The conference will evaluate the necessary schedule changes and will communicate its plans for the possibility of moving competitions to the spring semester at a later date.
“I’m disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, and communities,” said GAC Commissioner Will Prewitt. “Our membership’s presidents and athletic administrators did not arrive at this difficult decision lightly. Our hopes and work to date have been to proceed with fall competition following federal and state health guidance. However, recent decisions by the NCAA Board of Governors make this possibility unrealistic. We now turn our focus as a conference on how to best support our student-athletes during this challenging time and craft options that will allow them to experience meaningful and safe competition during spring 2021.”
UAM Director of Athletics Padraic McMeel said the GAC decision was reached after a long, deliberate process with hours of discussion and league-wide collaboration and with one priority in mind at all times, according to the UAM news release.
“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and campuses is of the upmost importance,” McMeel said. “Many questions still need to be answered, however, our mission remains the same: to help our student-athletes be champions in all aspects of their college experience. We will continue to engage our student-athletes and as a department, we will work closely with our healthcare partners, athletic training department, university administration, coaches, staff and student-athletes on returning to campus and practice to be prepared for eventual competition.”
Student-athletes impacted by the suspension of athletics will have scholarships honored. GAC teams may still practice and workout under the health and safety guidelines provided by each institution.
UAM Chancellor Dr. Peggy Doss said she is optimistic that athletic competition will resume in the spring semester.
“Although we understand the disappointment our student athletes are facing this fall sports season, I remain optimistic that we will continue competition in the spring semester,” Doss said. “Student-athletes are valued members of the university community and competitive sports is a vital part of the UAM culture. Our priority continues to be keeping all of our students safe. We cannot wait to cheer on the Weevils and Blossoms again soon.”
The GAC will continue to evaluate NCAA, federal, state, and local developments and will provide updated revisions as further information becomes available. The league will announce revised schedules at a later date, according to the GAC.