Spring sports face an uncertain future. Here’s what athletics might look like

A waist-down photo of a female college student in soccer gear holds a mask in her hand and rests her cleat on a soccer ball.
Following health guidelines and plans set by the NCAA and the SCIAC, the CMS Athletics Department plans for all 21 sports to have some form of the season this upcoming spring. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Three months out from the spring semester, there’s still a lot up in the air — including whether student-athletes will be able to resume competition. 

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has a plan in place, which includes all 21 sports having “some form” of competition, but whether they’ll be able to execute it will depend on if they get the go-ahead from state, Los Angeles County, NCAA and SCIAC officials. Pomona-Pitzer has yet to release any information.

CMS Athletic Director Erica Perkins Jasper said the athletic department is “currently working in concert with the SCIAC institutions” on the 21-sport plan. She did not specify when athletes could expect a final update on spring athletics.

“The plan is to shorten the SCIAC season with a SCIAC Championship tournament for our Fall Sports (for which seasons and NCAA Championships were canceled), a shortened SCIAC season for our winter sports, followed by a SCIAC Championship tournament and hopefully the NCAA Championships for the conference champion. We are planning on traditional seasons for our Spring sports, with SCIAC and NCAA Championships as scheduled,” she told TSL via email.

But again, it’s all contingent on guidelines from the state and LA County and recommendations from the NCAA and SCIAC, Jasper said, which will ultimately decide whether competition will be allowed to resume.

“The safety of our student-athlete[s] will guide all decisions and will have a direct impact on the final plan.” — Erica Perkins Jasper

Currently, LA County’s guidance for collegiate sports adheres to interim guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, according to the county public health department’s website.

The state guidance, released Sept. 30, allows athletic practice to take place as long as coaches and players maintain six feet of distance while primarily engaging in outdoor activities. “Periodic” COVID-19 testing is also required, and collegiate institutions must establish a “‘return to play’ safety plan” that all sports teams adhere to.

For collegiate athletic competition, additional rules require all athletes in “high contact risk” sports be tested and receive results within a 48-hour period before competition. Schools competing with one another must have “reasonable assurance” that each team’s athletics department has “adequately considered and addressed” the same requirements.

If sporting events do take place, they will be devoid of spectators, though events will be livestreamed, Jasper said.

In professional sports, some leagues have implemented self-quarantine measures to preserve the health of the athletes. But the CMS department will not emulate these practices if sports resume, Jasper said.

“The WNBA and NBA did an extensive job this summer and fall, and clearly set an example for professional sports,” Jasper said. “However, in Division III, we emphasize the student-athlete educational experience: student-athletics may not be treated differently than other members of the student body.”

She added that “the safety of our student-athlete[s] will guide all decisions and will have a direct impact on the final plan.”

P-P Athletic Director Miriam Merrill said to expect more information in about a month.

“I am not sure I will have any concrete answers to share until November or so,” Merrill told TSL via email. 

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