SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Another conference with significant ties to KELOLAND has pulled the plug on fall sports. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, home to Augustana, Northern State, SMSU, USF, and 12 other institutions is canceling fall competition and championships, and suspending all athletic competition through the end of the year.
Citing health and safety concerns, the NSIC has canceled its fall sports season.
“It’s tough news. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, it’s just a tough day,” USF Director of Athletics Pam Gohl said.
“It was hard March 12th and it’s really hard today,” Augustana Director of Athletics Josh Morton said.
On March 12th, the NCAA canceled the remaining winter and spring championships. Today, the specific requirements to play fall sports, including the timing and magnitude of testing, proved to be too much for the NSIC.
“Was really the deal-breaker for most of the schools out there, including Northern State. With the testing components and things that just aren’t even available in most areas of the country to meet those standards,” Northern State Director of Athletics Josh Moon said.
“At the end of the day, it’s about how do we keep our athletes, coaches, staff, our community safe, and we couldn’t say at this point that we could do that,” Morton said.
The decision impacts more than just fall sports. Suspending play through the end of the year erases the first half of the college basketball season.
“As a former basketball coach, those games are really, really critical for your team’s development before you get heavy into conference play and those opportunities are just not there this year,” Gohl said.
A final decision on the winter sports championships will come at a later date. As for the fall sports season, playing this spring remains a possibility.
“We need to get confirmation from the NCAA about what that would do for our student-athlete eligibility. We don’t necessarily want to burn a season of their eligibility if we can’t provide meaningful opportunities for them in the spring,” Gohl said.
As it currently stands, NSIC athletes will only be hitting the books.
“Big believer in structure and routine for our student-athletes to keep doing what they’re doing and persist to graduation. That’s our goal right now,” Moon said.
“Whatever we can do to make this experience as good as it can be, that’s our charge now. We have to turn the page and figure out what’s next,” Morton said.
The Northern Sun is also awaiting clarification from the NCAA on teams practicing this fall.