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OAC postpones athletics until Jan. 1

The Ohio Athletic Conference announced Friday that it is postponing all NCAA intercollegiate athletic competition through Dec. 31, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OAC is committed to moving competition to the spring, with various models currently being discussed, the conference said in a press release.

“The OAC believes we can continue to provide an excellent experience for our student-athletes,” said Tim Gleason, Commissioner of the OAC, “while continuing to make the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, families, fans, and campus communities our highest priority.”

This means there will be no football, volleyball, soccer, cross country, golf or any other fall sports at Marietta College. The decision also affects men’s and women’s basketball, which normally starts in November. Previously, the OAC had announced that its fall sports teams would only compete against conference opponents.

“I know our student-athletes are upset by this decision, but I hope they understand this was about their overall safety and well-being, and we promise to provide opportunities for each of you to gain something positive out of this situation,” said Marietta College President Bill Ruud. “I am proud of the amazing coaching staff we have at Marietta College, and I know they will do everything in their power to provide the best student-athlete experience as we manage the ever-changing climate surrounding COVID-19.”

Ruud was one of the 10 members of the President’s Council who voted to approve the postponement, “as an important and necessary step in protecting the student-athletes at Marietta College and the other OAC institutions,” he said.

Despite no games being played in the fall, athletes are expected to be allowed to continue training and conditioning under CDC guidelines and local health guidelines.

“While this was a difficult decision to make, the health and safety of our student-athletes and the entire Marietta College community has to be our number one priority,” said Larry Hiser, Director of Athletics at Marietta College.

“Collegiate athletes are faced with adversity every day on the fields of play and I am confident that our Pioneers will overcome this challenge and be better men, women and student-athletes when this current health crisis is behind us.

“We remain committed to providing our student-athletes with a meaningful athletic experience in the fall semester as we prepare for a safe return to competition in the spring.”

The OAC joins several Division III athletic leagues around the country in calling off sports during the pandemic, including the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, the Middle Atlantic Conference, the North Coast Athletic Conference, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, among others.

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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