Westmont College will delay the start of its fall sports after an announcement by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics that its institutions may not resume workouts any earlier than Aug. 15 or begin play before Sept. 5.
School officials confirmed that this will “have a significant impact” on the nonconference schedules for both men’s and women’s soccer, as well as women’s volleyball.
Among the contests affected is the Warriors’ 58th annual “Bryant & Sons Cup” cross-town men’s soccer exhibition, which had been set for Aug. 22 at UCSB.
“We’ll be asking UCSB if that can be rescheduled,” Westmont athletic director Dave Odell said. “We do still have four or five nonconference games for soccer that we want to keep — such as the fun match between (coaching brothers) Dave and Phil Wolf at Point Loma (on Sept. 19).
“But we are going to try to move around some things that are scheduled to be held prior to Sept. 5.”
He did express relief in seeing a light at the end of the tunnel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re working really hard on the various protocols that we’re going to use to limit the transmission of COVID and with how that is overlaid with what the college is planning for the fall,” Odell said. “Obviously, we also have to wait for the governor and health department to allow us to do certain things.
“But I now feel more confident than ever that we will play some form of college sports this year, which feels good. Three or four weeks ago, I did not feel that, for sure.”
The move-in day at Westmont for new students is Aug. 27 with the first day of classes to follow on Aug. 31. Most of its student-athletes, however, return to campus for training in early August.
Westmont received a statement sent jointly by NAIA president Jim Carr and NAIA Council of Presidents chair Arvid C. Johnson signifying two parameters for a resumption of play. The first stipulates that at least half of the NAIA’s members need to receive clearance from their local authorities before any school is allowed to play.
“The rationale for this decision is that a significant number of institutions need to participate to offer student-athletes a significant competitive and championship-caliber experience,” the statement read.
The second parameter established the earliest starting dates — Aug. 15 for practice and Sept 5 for competition. This is two-to-three weeks later than Westmont teams normally start.
It also trimmed the regular-season schedules for men’s and women’s soccer from 18 contests (including exhibitions) to 14 and for women’s volleyball from 28 to 22. Cross country has been reduced from eight meets to seven.
The most impacted schedule for Westmont is women’s volleyball. The Warriors have had to cancel their alumni match of Aug. 15, home contests against Corban on Aug. 19 and Westcliff on Sept. 1, as well as tournaments at Hope International on Aug. 21-22 and at Bellevue, Neb. on Sept. 4-5.
Their women’s volleyball season won’t open now until the Golden State Athletic Conference match at Life Pacific on Sept. 11.
Odell also noted that the GSAC is in talks with the California Pacific Conference, a fellow NAIA member, about a temporary merger that would help both leagues to limit travel costs.
“We’d be going to a pod system in which you play everybody in your pod with no overnight stays,” he said. “The standings would still be separate, but it would be a merger from a scheduling standpoint.
“I’m actually not a big fan of this, and I’m voting against it. A lot of the schools in our conference are struggling financially but we’re not one of them. We’re healthy and our enrollment numbers look great for the fall.”
Odell hopes to reschedule several of this fall’s sporting events, which had dates earlier than Sept. 5.
The Warriors women’s soccer team was to scrimmage Cal Poly on Aug. 8, play an exhibition at UCSB on Aug. 15, and then play host to its regular-season opener against Antelope Valley on Aug. 29.
Men’s soccer had planned to scrimmage UCLA in Westwood on Aug. 18 before playing the Bryant & Sons Cup at UCSB on Aug. 22 and its regular-season opener at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Aug. 29. Westmont also needs to reschedule its Sept. 1 men’s soccer home opener against Whittier.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams are tentatively set to open their seasons on Sept. 5 with Santa Barbara’s Nationball Classic.
“We’re waiting to see what some of the protocols are not just in the NCAA and NAIA, but in the NBA and Major League Baseball, too,” Odell said. “Some of the things that we’ll learn from them in returning to play should help us.
“I’ve already bought a thermometer for every one of our coaches. If they are working out their guys or gals, they’ll be able to log their temperatures before they start.
“We’re also doing all sorts of cleaning with our equipment before and after, limiting touches. We’re all still in this mode of figuring out how to limit the spread and do our tracing.”