OAC unveils fall sports update
The Ohio Athletic Conference has announced preliminary spring competition schedules for the three team sports that were postponed this fall due to COVID-19. The schedules, including football, soccer (men and women) and women’s volleyball, feature conference-only competition and do not exceed the NCAA 50-percent waiver so that all student-athletes will retain one of their four seasons of participation.
“When the difficult decision to postpone the fall sports was made several weeks ago, we committed to providing those athletes an opportunity to compete in the spring semester,” Marietta College Director of Athletic Larry Hiser said. “These schedules allow for significant competition that lead to conference championships without utilizing a season of eligibility for our athletes.”
The schedules are currently planned to begin on the weekend of March 12, 2021 and conclude on the weekend of April 16 with championship games in all sports.
The Conference will split into two divisions, East and West. The East Division includes Baldwin Wallace, John Carroll, Marietta, Mount Union and Muskingum. The West Division includes Capital, Heidelberg, Ohio Northern, Otterbein and Wilmington.
Each team will play the other four teams in its division (two home, two road) over a five-week period with each team receiving a bye. All games are scheduled on Friday nights at 7:00 p.m., beginning on Friday, March 12.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to play for an OAC Championship this spring,” said Marietta football coachAndy Waddle. “Our players are committed to making the most of this unusual fall semester to prepare for a truly unique season in the spring.”
On Friday, April 16, the top seeds of each division will meet for the OAC Championship. The two-seeds will also play as well as the three-seeds, four-seeds and five-seeds. The East Division will host the #1, #3 and #5 games, while the West Division will host #2 and #4.
Men’s and women’s soccer will take the originally scheduled fall 2020 round robin and move it to the spring, beginning on Sunday, March 14. The men and women will play at opposite sites each Sunday and Thursday. Sunday contests will begin at 2 p.m., while Thursday matches are either 4:00 or 7:00 p.m. at the host’s discretion.
“To be fair the news around the season has not been good to date. The release of a spring schedule of games is finally some good news,” Pioneer men’s soccer coach Joe Bergin said. “I know that as a team we will be excited to have a meaningful slate of games to play. I am thankful that the Presidents, AD’s and the Conference recognize the importance of having a season.”
“On Sunday, April 18, the top seed will host the second seed for the Conference Championship. The third seed will host the fourth seed, etc., so that all 10 teams play 10 contests.
“We’re extremely grateful to have a conference that is unified in providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes, and we are beyond excited to see what this spring will entail,” said Marietta women’s soccer coach Sean Kaighin . “Our ladies are hungry for more success, and we’re on a mission to make the most out of these next six months. You better believe MC women’s soccer is competing for a conference championship this spring!”
Women’s volleyball will take the originally scheduled fall 2020 round robin and move it to the spring, beginning on Friday, March 12. Matches will be played every Friday night and Tuesday night until the regular season ends on Friday, April 9. Each date will feature a doubleheader match, resulting in a Conference double-round robin, with games starting at 6-8 p.m.
“The news of a postponed fall was hard to hear, but I am thankful that the OAC is putting our players safety first,” Pioneer volleyball coach Kristy Newman said. “I think this is going to be a great opportunity for our program to grow on and off the court together. The year is going to look different, but I am excited to work together and push through any challenges we see.”
After April 9, the league will be seeded from one to 10 with the top four teams earning a spot in the Conference final four, played on Tuesday, April 13. The highest remaining seed will host the next highest remaining seed on Friday, April 16 for the OAC Championship. The two non-winners on Tuesday will also meet at the higher seed to complete an 11-date season.
The six teams not making the final four will also be afforded 11 dates of competition during the week of April 12 by scheduling closer geographic matches at institutional discretion.