AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – The Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), the league Wilmington College has participated in collegiate athletics since the turn of the century, announced on Friday its plans to postpone all intercollegiate athletic competition through the calendar year due to safety concerns amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The conference is committed to collaboration to allow the affected sports to compete safely in 2021.
The Wilmington sports that are affected by this change are: cross country, football, soccer, volleyball, basketballl, indoor track & field, swimming and wrestling.
"The OAC believes we can continue to provide an excellent experience for our student-athletes," said Tim Gleason, the league's commissioner. "Continuing to make the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, families, fans and campus communities will remain our highest priority."
The presidents of the institutions that makeup the OAC – Baldwin Wallace University, Capital University, Heidelberg University, John Carroll University, Marietta College, the University of Mount Union, Muskingum University, Ohio Northern University Otterbein University and Wilmington College – were unanimous in this decision.
"Obviously, we would love to see competition for our student-athletes this fall," said Terry Rupert, Vice President for Athletic Administration & Director of Athletics. "Despite these unfortunate circumstances, we see it an unique opportunity to spend more time in the development and growth of these student-athletes. We believe this permits our student-athletes more opportunities to not only practice and condition, but to also allot more time to their academic pursuits as they grow as future leaders."
Wilmington College is committed to providing meaningful athletic experiences to its student-athletes, Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and staff through practices, skill development, strength & conditioning and professional development opportunities.
Question No. 1: Will fall student-athletes be able to compete in the spring?
Answer No. 1: The NCAA recently made a decision to permit 2020 fall sports to play in the spring of 2021. The OAC is considering various models that would provide competition in the spring for fall-sport student-athletes.
Question No. 2: How does this decision affect the 18 or 19 week seasons as well as traditional and non-traditional seasons?
Answer No. 2: For the 2020-21 year only, the traditional and non-traditional weeks have been replaced with 114 days to be used the way each institution wishes to use them. The 114 days represents 19 weeks of six days (factoring a day off each week).
Question No. 3: Does the 114-day rule apply to teams or individual student-athletes?
Answer No. 3: It applies to teams, and keep in mind that if any individual student-athlete engages in athletically-related activity, the entire team uses one of its 114 days.
Question No. 4: Will any activities other than competition be allowable in the OAC during the fall?
Answer No. 4: Yes, the conference plans to use much of its 114-day allotment for a robust fall season that will keep student-athletes engaged and prepared for spring competition. Current guidelines and strategies are being explored.
Question No. 5: Will student-athletes exhaust a season of competition during the fall?
Answer No. 5: No, until there is competition, a season is not exhausted. Since there will be no OAC competition in the fall, there will be no season of competition exhausted.
Question No. 6: Do NCAA Resocialization principles need to be followed?
Answer No. 6: Yes, and if "athletically-related activities" as defined by the NCAA are a part of the resocialization it must count as one of the 114 days.
Question No. 7: If a team begins to compete in 2021 and then needs to stop due to the virus, or schedules are reduced due to resocializations and season push-backs, will the student-athletes lose a season of participation?
Answer No. 7: Not if the team does not exceed half of its allowable contest dates. The NCAA made this exception for this year only. This number includes OAC and NCAA postseason contests.
Question No. 8: If the above-mentioned 50 percent waiver comes into play, do the students retain their lost semester(s)?
Answer No. 8: If a team does not exceed half of its allowable maximum contest dates due to COVID-19, those eligible student-athletes will be awarded two additional semesters to their 10-semester limit.
Question No. 9: Due to the virus, has the NCAA reduced the minimum contests or dates required for a team to compete in order to qualify for the NCAA postseason?
Answer No. 9: Yes, the NCAA has reduced the standard minimums by one third.
Question No. 10: Will the NCAA conduct fall championships?
Answer No. 10: The NCAA Board of Governors will meet very soon to decide this matter. They will take into account the many conferences like the OAC who have decided to postpone competition in the fall.
Question No. 11: Now that we are using 114 days instead of "weeks," must we give our student-athletes one day off per week still?
Answer No. 11: Yes, and keep in mind that if you have multiple-sport athletes, you must still give every student-athlete one day off per week.
Question No. 12: Can any competition take place this fall between or among OAC schools?
Answer No. 12: Not formal, in-person competition that we have conducted for the last 118 years, but OAC coaching groups are urged to communicate and think of creative ways to conduct competitions that would be fun for the student-athlete and keep us all engaged and connected. You can use your 114-day year to video student-athletes running, throwing, jumping, hitting, shooting, kicking, serving, etc. and issue challenges and competition online.