Statement from the Mountain East Conference on Winter Sports
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – The Mountain East Conference Board of Directors unanimously decided today to begin winter sports no earlier than January 1, 2021. The MEC joins the majority of NCAA Division II conferences that have delayed the start of winter sports until January 2021. The MEC’s winter sports include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s indoor track and field and wrestling.
Additionally, the board resolved to pursue strategies that will preserve a year of eligibility for student-athletes competing in winter sports as the league works to gain access to the volume of testing supplies needed to return to competition.
“We are disappointed to delay the start of winter sports, largely due to the challenges with acquiring the needed volume of testing supplies, but we are committed to pursuing every route available that will allow those student-athletes to have a meaningful season, retain a year of eligibility and still compete for conference and national championships,” Commissioner Reid Amos said. “We strongly believe that student-athletes in winter sports deserve the same eligibility relief that has already been afforded to fall and spring student-athletes, principally due to the loss of their national championship events last year and that the experience for all winter sport student-athletes will be significantly compromised by the effects of the pandemic. Our ultimate decisions regarding the length of schedules for our winter sports are dependent on whether or not present NCAA relief options are expanded for the benefit of our winter student-athletes.”
Today’s announcement comes in response to the NCAA’s guidelines for resocialization of collegiate basketball announced last week (Sept. 25) and the update from the NCAA’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, including testing considerations, that was published yesterday (Oct. 8). The postponement to the start of the winter season is aimed at providing institutions the opportunity to acquire the needed testing supplies.
“This necessary delay until January is largely driven by the testing expectations established through NCAA guidelines,” added Amos. “We are encouraged that with the emergence of increasingly affordable saliva-based PCR tests and point-of-care antigen rapid tests that the MEC will have the ability to exceed state and local guidelines, and meet NCAA obligations, if we can acquire the volume of tests needed in a timely fashion.”
Schedule announcements for both fall and winter sports, as well as championship information for those sports, will be made in the coming weeks.