College of the Canyons student-athletes won’t be participating in fall sports, COC officials announced Thursday, following statewide concern over rising COVID-19 diagnoses.
“This is a decision that was not entered into lightly,” according to COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, in a statement issued Thursday evening. “After several months of discussion and careful consideration regarding the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff, their families, and the entire campus community — and based on the unpredictability of this virus — we made the difficult decision to opt out of the upcoming spring 1 season of competition.”
COC athletic programs that traditionally compete in the fall include: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.
California Community College Athletic Association officials released a COVID-19 contingency plan for spring competition called for traditional fall sports programs to play a 70% season, made up of only regional conference opponents, during the spring 2021 semester.
Under the previously approved plan, teams could have resumed practice Jan. 18, with competition slated to begin Feb. 5, and a truncated football season starting Feb. 13. However, those tentative dates were also contingent upon the state and county health guidelines handed down to each host institution.
Thursday’s announcement means those plans are scuttled for COC, which listed several concerns with respect to the safety of its students, staff and community members who might attend athletic competitions, including: the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in L.A. County; the need to provide testing for student-athletes, coaches, support staff and officials; the potential for positive tests and the need for ongoing contact tracing; cleaning protocols for equipment and athletic facilities; transportation to and from road contests; exposure and potential quarantine of athletic department staff.
“Hopefully, making this announcement now will give our student-athletes the ability to begin weighing their spring semester options, academically and athletically, in order to make the best possible decision regarding their future,” said COC Athletic Director Chuck Lyon, who’s also dean of physical education, kinesiology and athletics. “It will also allow those coaches who have had their programs affected to definitively begin making plans for a fall 2021 season.”
COC athletics programs have been out of action since early March, following an initial postponement the previous academic year, which was followed by a subsequent cancellation of the spring 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.