The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference announced Thursday that it has cancelled its fall competitions and suspended all athletic play for the remainder of 2020 due to health and safety concerns regarding the coronavirus.
The decision comes a little over a week after the NCAA Division II Presidents Council gave notice that it would be suspending all fall championships for this coming season. Despite initial indications that the NSIC would be continuing on with a competitive fall season–which had already been delayed in its timetable by several weeks–the announcement Thursday ultimately ended any hopes of competitive play for this fall.
“The league’s initial decision to delay the start of fall sports was made with the rationale to allow campuses the ability to focus solely on reopening safely for their broader university communities,” NSIC Commissioner Erin Lind said in a league statement. “In light of the recent decisions made by the NCAA Board of Governors, it is no longer feasible to conduct outside competition this fall semester.
“We believe now is the right time to provide clarity to our student-athletes so we can turn our efforts towards helping institutions reopen and ensuring a safe return to campus to start the academic year.”
Though details were not provided, a window of opportunity for fall teams to play at some point in the academic year was mentioned by the league. Through the statement, the NSIC noted that “the membership is committed to exploring meaningful opportunities and experiences for fall student-athletes in the spring, if it can be done reasonably and safely”.
Due to the suspension of all play for the remainder of 2020, winter sports competition in the NSIC for this upcoming academic year will now begin on January 1, 2021 at the earliest.
Numerous responses came from members of the Bemidji State University athletics department following the announcement.
“We are deeply saddened that our student-athletes will not have the opportunity to compete this fall,” said Bemidji State athletics director Tracy Dill. “Our top priority is the academic, athletic, mental well-being and safety of our student-athletes and staff. We will continue to work to enhance opportunities to train, practice, and develop skills.”
In addition to Dill, all four of Bemidji State’s fall sports head coaches provided statements in response to the conference’s announcement.
Bemidji State University’s 43rd Annual Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the BSU Athletic Scholarship Fund remains on schedule for Friday, August 28 at the Bemidji Town & Country Club.