Santa Barbara City College’s fall sports seasons, which had been delayed until the spring semester by the COVID-19 pandemic, were canceled altogether by the college earlier this week.
The decision affects 10 Vaquero sports including football. The others are men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s water polo, women’s golf, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country.
SBCC Superintendent and President Dr. Utpal K. Goswami made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision had been made “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We are faced with continuously changing conditions and restrictions that post a significant challenge for our athletic teams,” Dr. Goswami said in a statement. “This was a very difficult and disappointing decision to make but after a lot of collaboration and input from many sources, we decided this was the best option for our students and staff.
“Health and safety are always the most important consideration.”
The California Community College Athletic Association announced in mid-July that it would be moving its fall sports calendar to the spring semester. When cases of the coronavirus began to increase two months later, the CCCAA gave its schools a Dec. 18 deadline for having their fall sports opt out altogether.
The spiraling count of COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County prompted SBCC to make that call two weeks before the deadline.
“When we make difficult decisions like this, I always lean on the mission statement of Santa Barbara City College and our athletics department,” athletic director Rocco Constantino said. “I am confident that we can continue to meet our mission without providing competition in the early spring window.
“We were very happy with the way our fall physical education classes went and hope to continue on that same process with an eye towards increased activities as the COVID-19 situation allows.”
The CCCAA has set a Feb. 26 deadline for schools to opt out of the later seasons of baseball, softball, men’s volleyball, women’s beach volleyball, men’s golf, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s track and field.
The SBCC football team, like other Vaquero squads, has been working out throughout the fall in a classroom setting. Official football practice was set to begin on Jan. 18, with the season to start the following month.
Craig Moropoulos, quarterback of SBCC’s Mission Bowl team of 1979 and its head coach since 2007, informed his football team of the school’s decision during a meeting on Monday night.
“With the county’s latest move to the purple (widespread) tier, we knew it wasn’t looking too positive,” Mr. Moropoulos said. “Obviously we’re all disappointed, but you’ve got to be pretty naïve if you think the state’s situation wasn’t going to affect this negatively.
“Our message to our players is that this is just a bump in a road, that we’re going to handle it and move on, and get better, and somehow, and in some way, turn a negative into a real positive.”
SBCC’s sports classes and practices will continue “as the state and county will allow,” Mr. Constantino said.
The school’s on-campus football workouts drew a turnout of 82 players this fall with nearly 40 others taking the football class remotely. The Vaqueros were able to use sanitized footballs when the county dropped into the red (substantial) tier.
“All the protocols were still in place, but we were able to do some other things to get better,” Mr. Moropoulos said. “Considering the situation, it was a very positive fall.
“What we’re focusing on now is the fact that we’ve had a good amount of guys work hard over the fall, and we want to keep them involved and engaged to whatever extent we can. We’re hoping to have some development over the spring and get ready for the fall of 2021.”