Gannon University and PSAC Announce Fall Athletic Season Update
Posted: July 15, 2020
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) has announced it will suspend all conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was finalized by the league’s Board of Directors on Tuesday.
Gannon University and the PSAC intend to shift all PSAC fall sports seasons and championships to the spring semester. More details regarding the shift will be announced at a future date.
“I know this will come as a tremendous disappointment to our student-athletes and their families,” said Keith Taylor, Ph.D., president of Gannon University. “We are deeply disappointed for them, and along with them. Nonetheless, we understand the decision and will support the policies and direction of our conference. We firmly believe that the Gannon experience is not a complete experience without a fully engaged mind, body and spirit and our purpose is to transform all aspects of one’s life through that experience.
“Athletics is a part of our Gannon culture and fuels our well-being,” Taylor said, “and though PSAC intercollegiate competition isn’t going to happen this fall, we will support our student-athletes’ participation in controlled workouts throughout the fall in keeping with the PSAC and NCAA guidelines.
“We are eager to get back to school and back to play, and we will make our way to that end judiciously, cautiously and safely,” Taylor said. “We acknowledge that these are not normal times. However, we, like our student-athletes, will stay active in every way possible to be fully prepared for the better days and the competitions that surely are ahead.”
Although no PSAC competition will occur during the fall semester, Gannon student-athletes will have the ability to practice and condition under University guidelines previously created for a safe return to play. Specific details regarding countable athletic related activity (CARA) hours will be determined after clarification conversations regarding playing seasons with the NCAA and PSAC.
Gannon administrators have been working since March to create protocols for the safe resumption of athletics this fall. In fact, the university is scheduled next week to welcome its first student-athletes back to campus since the COVID-19 pandemic suspended athletic activities in mid-March. The detailed plan was rolled out in segments to the student-athlete population over the last month. In addition to receiving e-mail updates, student-athletes have been able to ask questions while participating in virtual Athletics Town Hall Meetings with various Gannon administrators. The return to play plan included:
- COVID-19 testing
- Daily health screenings
- Smaller “pod” systems for athletics activities
- Virtual team meetings when applicable
- Reduced room capacity and social distancing procedures when in-person meetings are needed
- Office meetings by appointment only with a maximum of two people with masks and social distancing
- Isolation and contact tracing procedures if someone tested positive
- Increased cleaning and sanitation of athletic facilities, vans and buses
- Traffic flow patterns for athletic facilities
- PPE equipment for athletic training personnel and athletic personnel
- Additional hand sanitizer throughout athletic facilities and on sidelines
- Individual items for student-athletes such as face coverings and water bottles
- Laundry service for athletic-related clothing
- Reduced capacity in the athletic training room, aided by an online system for appointments
- Social distancing at practice where applicable
- Masks being worn at all times where applicable
“We are confident in these measures,” explained Gannon Vice President for Student Development and Engagement Brian Nichols, who helped create the new processes. “A testing regimen has been established that will be augmented with daily temperature checks and health screenings. A more aggressive cleaning program has been put in place. And, to manage density, each team has created a “pod” system of smaller units to better monitor and – if necessary – manage outbreaks of illness within the teams.
“Protocols have also been created for athletic travel – from cleaning our vans and buses to how and where we stop during our trips,” Nichols said.
“We will be ready to return to competition as soon as the opportunity becomes available,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for our student-athletes, and their avid supporters, that they won’t have that chance to compete with other PSAC schools this fall.”
Gannon student-athletes will remain on schedule with their appropriate move-in times despite the announcement by the PSAC as classes are set to begin Aug. 10. The initial process that includes physicals and COVID-19 testing will also remain in place to get student-athletes ready for workouts and conditioning while maintaining proper health guidelines related to social distancing and room/building capacities.
“We are excited to welcome some of our fall student-athletes to campus early for the fall semester,” said Gannon Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk. “We will continue to communicate with our coaches and student-athletes as we develop plans and continue to move forward.
“We are committed to our student-athletes and the goal of providing them with a positive experience. We will explore multiple avenues to facilitate a meaningful and healthy fall. This continues to be a fluid situation. However, with the detailed plans that have already been developed with health and well-being at the forefront, we are prepared to facilitate opportunities,” McGuirk said.
For a complete FAQ about what today’s announcement means to our student-athletes, please click here.