LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — The Ohio Valley Conference postponed fall sports competition Friday, but gave its member football teams approval to play up to four non-conference football games beginning next month.
The league’s Board of Presidents voted to postpone men’s and women’s golf, cross country, women’s soccer and volleyball because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Fall competition for men’s and women’s tennis and fall baseball and softball also were affected by the decision.
“These are unprecedented times without a roadmap to help navigate,” Eastern Kentucky University Athletics Director Matt Roan said Friday. “My heart breaks for our student-athletes who will not have the opportunity to compete this fall, and who continue to live daily with uncertainty surrounding their competitive seasons in this academic year. Our job remains to provide support to them in every facet of their student-athlete experience.”
Roan said loving volleyball and soccer to the spring was a viable option, but cross country conflicts with track and field.
Eastern Kentucky University’s football season opener is scheduled for Sept. 3 against Western Carolina. A week later on Sept. 12, the Colonels are scheduled to play West Virginia in Morgantown, followed by a road game at Youngstown State on Sept. 19. The current schedule would leave the Colonels with just one home encounter.
Roan said playing a full football season in the spring presents “logistical, organizational and other concerns” and added that “EKU is continuing to explore all options to play football in the fall.”
He said the university has the right protocols in place when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus.
“We believe our protocol, which includes regular testing and other medical measures, allows us this opportunity and provides a protective environment for not just our student-athletes, but our coaches, staff, supporters and campus community," he said. "We have been very deliberate in our approach since March. We’ve learned along the way and will continue to learn every day. Our safety protocols are strong.”
OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche said, “The Conference leaders made this value-based decision with a commitment to continue to monitor the evolving situation and to strive to establish meaningful competitive opportunities in the spring for our fall sport student-athletes.”
“While we understand there are many student-athletes, families, and communities that are disappointed by the lack of Conference competition this fall, and we deeply share that disappointment,” she said. “It is the OVC’s ardent intention to ensure seasons postponed are not seasons canceled if the facts support it.”
Murray State Athletics Director Kevin Staal said the league’s decision “reflects our steadfast commitment to student-athlete safety and well-being.”
“For our department, in coordination with the NCAA & OVC, our work continues,” he said. “Student-athletes will advance their development while our coaches, staff and administration work diligently to support and lead those efforts.”
Former Kentucky assistant coach Dean Hood and the Racers are scheduled to open the season against Georgia State on Sept. 3, followed vy Tarleton State at home on Sept. 12. Murray sTATE plays at Louisville on Sept. 19.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.