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PSAC cancels winter sports regular-season, championship competitions

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of its mandated regular-season and championship competition for winter sports following a vote of the league’s Board of Directors on Wednesday.

Following the PSAC’s official statement, Lock Haven University has announced its plans regarding athletic competition for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year.

LHU plans to opt in and compete in men’s and women’s cross country and women’s swimming. Both sports were recently deemed low risk by the NCAA’s most recent return-to-sport guidelines, released Nov. 13. Lock Haven has the option to opt out at any time if it is believed the environment is unsafe for the student-athletes to compete.

The PSAC will announce plans for the 2021 PSAC cross country and swimming championships at a later date.

Furthermore, the university announced that the Division I men’s wrestling team — an affiliate member of the Mid-American Conference — and the women’s wrestling program will not compete during the 2020-21 season.

Last week, the PSAC Board of Directors cancelled PSAC championship seasons in fall sports, yet allowed for league championship opportunities in those sports should six or more schools elect to participate. All schools electing to play must abide by existing league rules and the NCAA guidelines that have been set due to the existing COVID-19 pandemic. The same requirements exist for the winter sports that have been cancelled.

Fall and winter PSAC sports that may be subject to cancellation include: men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, indoor track & field, soccer and swimming, as well as women’s sports in volleyball and field hockey, and men’s sports in football and wrestling.

Any cancellation of league schedules or championships does not preclude individual institutions from participating in countable athletically related activities nor exploring competition outside of the previously mandated PSAC schedule.

To date, the Atlantic 10 Conference still plans for field hockey to compete in the spring. LHU’s Division I field hockey team is an affiliate member of the A-10 for the sport of field hockey.

Both LHU President Dr. Robert Pignatello and director of athletics Dr. Tom Gioglio understand that this comes as a difficult decision, but stand by the decision to keep LHU student-athletes safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge throughout Clinton County, central Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth.

“This is the worst health crisis in over 100 years. The decisions being made here regarding athletic competition recognize that we must do all we can to foster the health and safety of our student-athletes and mitigate virus transmission for everyone on campus and throughout the greater community,” Pignatello said. “We will continue to look for ways to provide a safe return to competition when and as conditions allow for it.”

Gioglio agreed, “While the decision to cancel all winter sports with the exception of swimming comes with great disappointment, it was the correct decision to make.”

Gioglio noted that with the current trends of the COVID-19 virus increasing, the commitment to the health and well-being of our student-athletes and coaches remains at the forefront of athletic decision-making. “I am extremely proud of our student-athletes, their families and coaches who are sacrificing for the good of public health.”

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