All SRJC sports pushed back to spring 2021
All 17 sports offered by Santa Rosa Junior College will take place during the spring semester, including the traditional fall rite of football, because of safety concerns over the contagious coronavirus. The return to athletics in January will only occur if it is safe to do so, a decision that will be guided primarily by state and local health guidelines.
The California Community College Athletic Association approved a plan Thursday in Sacramento to slot all men’s and women’s programs into two abbreviated sports seasons, “early spring” and “late spring.”
The organization, which governs all junior colleges in the state, was scheduled to announce a decision next week on which of three potential plans it would approve, but moved up the decision because the coronavirus infection numbers statewide continue to climb.
Santa Rosa Junior College coaches and athletic administrators said the decision wasn’t a shock, other than coming a week before expected, and provides clear guidance to at least start planning for the resumption of college athletics.
As the pandemic worsened throughout California in March, virtually all high schools and colleges cut their spring sports seasons short, hoping it would be an intermission and not a cancellation. Universities nationwide did the same, and some began limiting fall sports planned for the upcoming school year.
This week, the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences moved to a conference-only model for all fall sports. The Ivy League placed all sports on hold until at least January, making it the first Division I conference that will not field fall teams.
Pro basketball, soccer and baseball have all experienced hiccups in their attempts to return over the past few weeks, with players and staff testing positive on multiple teams.
Meanwhile, California and Sonoma County’s infection numbers continue to rise, forestalling any hopes for a return to normalcy the upcoming new school year might offer.
“I think it’s the responsible thing to do,” said Santa Rosa Junior College football coach Lenny Wagner, who also is the school’s physical education department head. “With football, it would be absolutely impossible to social distance.”
The decision to push back junior college sports may weigh on competitions at the high school level as well. Several high school coaches said they expect fall sports in Sonoma County schools to be delayed as well.
The Santa Rosa City Schools district is considering various models of how school may proceed in the upcoming school year. If the coronavirus rate shows the county hasn’t slowed the spread, the district could only offer remote learning, likely prohibiting sports.
The CCCAA’s contingency plan for junior college athletics initially had the noncontact sports of men’s and women’s cross country and women’s golf competing in the fall, but changed in its final version to move those sports to the early spring.
Fall sports like football, soccer, wrestling and basketball — all considered full-contact sports — will also play in the first season, beginning in February, with practices allowed mid-January.
Late spring sports with minimal or no contact include baseball, softball, men’s golf, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field. Those sports would begin in April and be able to practice in late March.
All sports will have abbreviated seasons of 70% of the number of competition dates that they are currently permitted. The CCCAA will not have state championships in 2020-21, although conferences will be able to host regional postseason competitions.
Here is a calendar of junior college sports for 2021: https://www.cccaasports.org/coronavirus/Contingency_Plans_Master_July_17.pdf
SRJC Athletic Director Matt Markovich said the contingency plan provides a blueprint to work with, though whether sports are possible in January remains to be seen.
“Who knows where this virus is going to go, what the state is going to look like in a couple months,” he said. “But this gives us some time to plan. We’re not seeing the state or county recover as fast as we’d hoped, but the No. 1 priority is to keep everyone safe.”
Read the CCCAA announcement here: https://www.cccaasports.org/coronavirus/Contingency_Plan_announcement
The guidance is the first step in reaching out to athletes who’ve been cut off for months from their school, coaches and teammates.
“The most important thing is it allows us to at least start working on a plan to keep our student-athletes connected, connected to the district, the coaches, their team,” Markovich said. “It will allow us to get back to the office on Monday and start putting things together.”