The fall sports seasons for Santa Barbara City College and Allan Hancock College are being moved to the spring semester of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials announced.
The California Community College Athletic Association’s Board of Directors reported that it “overwhelmingly approved” implementation of its spring contingency plan on Thursday. The decision affects 110 colleges and approximately 24,000 student-athletes.
The California Interscholastic Federation state office is expected to announce its own plans for the high school sports season on July 20, with a postponement of fall competition until 2021 among the reported options.
“We were prepared for this decision and I really do believe this is in the best interest of everyone’s health and safety,” said Rocco Constantino, SBCC’s director of athletics. “We have been planning for months, anticipating many different scenarios and now that we know the CCCAA’s plan, we can start to nail down some of the logistics.
“It’ll be difficult to pull off, but I have confidence our coaches and staff will rise to the occasion to give our athletes the great academic and athletic experience they expect when attending SBCC.”
The decision affects seven Vaquero teams which compete in the fall — football, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s golf — as well as men’s and women’s basketball.
SBCC’s football scrimmage at Ventura College had been scheduled for Aug. 22. The Vaqueros were to open their regular season at Hancock on Sept. 5.
The CCCAA plan calls for the spring semester to be divided into two sections. The sports that traditionally compete in the fall will have a window for regular-season practice and competition between Jan. 18 and April 6. The traditional spring sports will have a window from March 27 through June 12 for practice and games.
The plan also allows for a one-week regional tournament for each sport. State championships, however, will not be conducted in any sport this year.
“There were times that we had hope we may have been able to host some sports in the fall, but the trends surrounding the virus did not continue in a right direction,” Mr. Constantino said. “Although competition will not happen this fall, we have very valuable Physical Education classes that we can offer our student-athletes.
“We emphasize a holistic approach to educating our students and just because we aren’t competing in the fall doesn’t mean we can’t help them develop in other ways. We have an excellent, creative staff and I’m looking forward to working through this challenge with them.”
The CCCAA board said its conventional plan, which would’ve kept a traditional calendar for all sports except men’s and women’s basketball, was reliant on California being in Phase 4 of its reopening by July 17. Since that condition now appears impossible, the board’s COVID-19 Work Group recommended that the CCCAA go ahead with its contingency plan.
“I know I speak for the entire CCCAA board that moving fall athletics to spring 2021 is a huge disappointment,” said board chair Dr. Erika Endrijonas. “However, the need to keep our student-athletes and the amazing coaches and athletic trainers who work with them safe was simply the only option available with the virus spiraling out of control across the state.”
The CCCAA’s original contingency plan had men’s and women’s cross country, and women’s golf competing in the fall. Those sports, however, will now start practice in mid-January and begin competition in February along with basketball, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling.
Badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and men’s volleyball are scheduled to start practice in late March and begin competition on April 10.
All sports will have a 30% reduction in the maximum number of contests or competition. Postseason formats will be announced at a later date.
“We were very hopeful that we could go forth with the conventional plan,” said Jennifer Cardone, the CCCAA’s interim executive director. “It’s the closest to what everyone is used to and provides for the least disruption to our student-athletes and colleges.
“Unfortunately, California’s reopening progress has slowed, and it’s become apparent that we would not be in position to put it into action on July 17.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staffs are our top priorities. While the Contingency Plan has the most drastic changes, it’s also the one that provides us the best opportunity to return to competition.”