The Southeastern Conference announced Tuesday that it will postpone the start of volleyball, soccer and cross country competition through at least August 31. The decision will provide additional time to prepare for the safe return of competition on an adjusted timeline.
The delay in competition includes all exhibition and non-conference games.
“This was a collective decision made in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward said. “The reality is we are not where we need to be with regard to the spread of COVID-19 to safely compete as scheduled for now. I cannot stress enough how important it is for all of us to take seriously public health recommendations to keep our communities safe.”
Woodward said today’s decision does not directly impact plans for the fall football schedule, though all scenarios are being discussed.
“Our student athletes are anxious to begin playing the sport they love,” LSU volleyball coach Fran Flory said. “They also understand that their safety as well as the safety of their families is at the forefront of all decisions that the leaders of the SEC and of our respective campuses make. While we are disappointed that the start of the season will be delayed, we are grateful for the vision that we will be able to compete starting September 1st. We look forward to putting on the uniform again in the near future.
SEC institutions will continue to follow the guidance of the Conference’s Return to Activity and Medical Advisory Task Force and the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines as student-athletes are engaged in preseason preparation for a return to competition.
“At this moment in time, I think it is a smart and safe decision to delay the start of the season,” first-year LSU soccer coach Sian Hudson said “As competitors we all want to be back on the field doing what we love, but we need more time to evaluate the virus and ensure it is a safe environment for our student-athletes and staff. We will continue to practice proper social distancing, wear masks, and wash our hands frequently in hopes of defeating this virus and competing again soon.”
Any rescheduling of non-conference contests impacted by the postponed start of the fall seasons in volleyball, soccer and cross country will be determined by each school.
“First and foremost, these are unprecedented times and we don’t take them lightly,” LSU cross country coach Houston Franks said. “The health of our student-athletes here at LSU is of the utmost importance. It’s disappointing to hear that our season will be affected, but we realize the magnitude of this situation. We will continue to follow the proper protocols voiced by healthcare professionals as we continue to fight this virus.”
The SEC continues to monitor developments related to COVID-19 as it evaluates the potential impact on fall schedules in all sports, with the understanding that the primary responsibility of the SEC and its institutions is to ensure the health and well-being of its student-athletes.