July 13, 2020
In a season of difficult decisions, I am writing to let you know about an important decision affecting intercollegiate athletics. During a meeting this past Friday the presidents of the Patriot League (our primary athletics conference) voted to suspend all competition for the fall season. As you can imagine, this was a painful decision, one made with a full understanding of the aspirations and hopes of our student-athletes who thrive on the unique challenges of high-level competition and the special bonds of team membership, bonds formed in practice and preparation and in moments of triumph and heartbreak. We had been laying the foundations for the early, carefully staggered return of team members to campus, but our plans are now on hold.
The Patriot League made this decision because of the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As is self-evident I believe, organizing travel (either by plane or bus) and competition with necessary protocols for distancing and testing is particularly challenging for team sports competition. And institutions are taking differentiated approaches to testing making it very difficult to have uniform health protocols. We know that our athletes are exceptionally fit and as a group not in a high-risk category. But the possibility of transmission related to travel and competition is what makes the decision to suspend competition this fall a painful necessity.
We will continue to explore all possibilities which will allow our teams to return to competition. In the meantime, all of our athletes will be practicing and training during the fall season in very controlled environments.
I should note that our men’s and women’s ice hockey teams compete in the Hockey East Association. Also, our men’s crew and our women’s lightweight crew teams compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association. Decisions about these sports and other winter and spring programs will be made at a later date.
Robert A. Brown