For the time being, athletic competitions at the University have ceased to exist. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social distancing policies adopted by the University, this is hardly surprising.
On June 22, UR Athletics announced plans for a “phased approach in the resocialization to sport activity” through the fall semester. On Aug. 5, the message was more dramatic. Two major leagues for UR teams, the Liberty League and the University Athletic Association, had previously suspended play for fall 2020, and now so has the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. The NCAA website confirms that Division II is cancelled as well, and that decisions for Division I will be made by Aug. 21.
The Liberty League’s cancellation, announced July 7, will affect UR football, field hockey, golf, and rowing teams, and overturns previous plans for gradual resumption of the League. Under that plan, universities would individually follow the NCAA’s resocialization of sports policy, which requires two weeks of declining infection rates. After evaluating the course of the pandemic, as well as the development of government and NCAA policy, the League decided to end its fall competitions.
The UAA tried to develop a schedule that fit within travel restrictions but came to the conclusion that such a season would not be feasible. At the time of writing, the cancellation only applies to competitions that have championships in the fall: soccer, volleyball, and cross country. The fate of sports that begin in fall but whose championships are later, such as basketball, has not been decided by the UAA.
Universities can still compete in sporting activities, so long as they comply with state laws and NCAA policy, but UR Athletics has said they don’t predict games to be available. As it stands, the travel radius alone significantly limits the number of possible opponents.
The Goergen Athletic Center will remain closed in compliance with New York state restrictions. Upon its undetermined opening, only full-time UR students may use the facilities, and only at 25% occupancy. Outdoor facilities and athletic spaces will be restricted to one team at a time, and indoor spaces will be restricted to half a team, per the University’s Rochester Restart policy. It is unclear if this allowance extends to club or intramural sports, or how those teams will be affected by social distancing policies compared to their varsity counterparts.