Pomona-Pitzer cancels fall 2020 athletics

A line of football players hunch before a play.
Pomona-Pitzer sports will not be competing in the fall, according to a P-P press release put out Wednesday. (Meghan Joyce • The Student Life)

All Pomona-Pitzer sports have been canceled for the upcoming fall season, the athletic department announced Wednesday via press release. The cancellation includes fall season sports as well as winter sports beginning in the fall. 

The announcement, a product of “the ongoing COVID-19 situation in LA County,” comes in conjunction with Pomona College’s decision to close the campus and hold exclusively online classes during the fall semester. 

In the wake of Scripps College’s announcement that all classes will be held online, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps athletics has yet to release an announcement about the fall season. Harvey Mudd College athletes were told last week they would be unable to compete if they were living on campus. 

“Intercollegiate athletic participation is a highly valued aspect of the educational experience at Pomona and Pitzer, as it provides tangible learning opportunities outside of the classroom,” the release said. “Unfortunately, we will not be competing this fall.” 

Newly appointed P-P athletic director Miriam Merril acknowledged the gravity of the announcement and expressed her faith in Sagehens’ ability to roll with the news’s punch. 

“To our devoted Sagehens, we know this decision is disappointing to you,” Merrill said in a message quoted in the release. “We look forward to guiding and supporting you through this crucial moment in history. Together we will overcome. Because that’s what Sagehens do.”

The athletics department will focus on athletes by providing “educational, team-building and wellness programming” in the form of leadership programming, mental health initiatives and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, the release said. Physical education courses will be held virtually and will count toward general education requirements. 

Winter sports will not compete in the fall, but “conversations about competitive seasons for the winter and spring sports will be ongoing” and contingent on state, local and institutional safety guidelines.

The press release also affirmed that student-athletes who don’t compete in the fall will retain a year of NCAA eligibility after graduation. 

For incoming student-athletes, though the decision is not ideal, it gives them an opportunity to reassess their options.

“I am disappointed that fall sports were canceled. However, I do not think any other solution would have been safe enough to be viable,” said Thomas McConnell PO ’24, who was set to play for P-P football. “Also, given that I have not yet been on campus, I don’t know what I am missing yet, and the decision to take a gap year is a far easier one.”

Wiley Roberts PO ’24, another incoming football recruit, shared a similar sentiment.

“It is unfortunate that the fall sports season was cancelled, and I am really disappointed, especially for my senior teammates who might be losing out on their last opportunity to participate in collegiate athletics,” he said. “However, I also understand that the health and safety of Pomona’s students, its faculty and anyone else affiliated with the college is of paramount importance, so I feel that the administration made the right decision by cancelling sports and going with online learning.”

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