BALTIMORE, Md. — Even though the possibility was always there, it still hit hard.
"I know it was a gut-wrenching decision and announcement to all of us," said McDaniel College Head Football Coach Demarcus White.
The Division III Centennial Conference canceled the 2020 football season on Tuesday, citing ongoing concerns with COVID-19. It's the first league in the country to do so. McDaniel and Johns Hopkins University are both members.
"We were hoping that things would become better as we had a better handle, as far as science and research shows with this virus. Things did not become better and things aren’t better today as we stand here today," said White. "I think the decision that was made was the right decision."
Hopkins Head Coach Greg Chimera said he expected this all along.
"Didn’t think it was possible for us to have a full season so I wasn’t too shocked," he said.
For the seniors the decision is devastating.
"I did start feeling some sort of feelings when I talked to my team and saw the hurt and confusion, especially with my seniors," added Chimera.
"For a lot of us it ends here and I think it’s just sad that we worked all this time and now the possibility of it being gone, like Coach White said earlier, it’s gut-wrenching," said McDaniel senior quarterback Tyler Palermiti.
The Centennial Conference said all competition for other fall sports is suspended. That decision will be reevaluated by the end of September. The league is leaving open the possibility of shifting certain sports, including football, to the spring of 2021.
Coach White is hopeful there will be some kind of season in the spring.
"Extremely high," he said. "I think that we’re all driven by hope."
"When they said there’s potential to move it to the spring, it was a sigh of relief," said McDaniel senior linebacker Mason Grim.
In the meantime, at McD, athletes can still participate in practices that adhere to state and local health guidelines. The Green Terror are grasping onto anything at this point with the desire for better days ahead.
"Treat the fall like it’s the spring. Treat the spring like it’s the fall and keep rolling," said Grim.
Below is the full statement from the Centennial Conference, released Tuesday:
In response to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centennial Conference Presidents Council has been meeting diligently to address the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and their communities. As institutions finalize their plans for the coming year, federal, state, and local health guidance, as well as institutional policies, will guide their independent decisions regarding reopening.
Given health and other related concerns, the Centennial Conference Presidents Council has decided to suspend any inter-collegiate competition for sports scheduled for the fall semester. The presidents will reevaluate this decision by the end of September, based on work to be done by the Conference to assess sports-specific activities and the experiences on the schools’ campuses. The presidents have determined football will not be played in the fall. The Conference will also explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, including football, to the spring.
Below is a statement released by McDaniel College on Tuesday:
In response to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centennial Conference Presidents Council has been meeting diligently to address the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and their communities. Citing health and other related concerns, the following decisions have been reached as of July 7 by the Centennial Conference Presidents Council, chaired by McDaniel College President Roger Casey:
• The Council has decided to suspend all intercollegiate competition for athletics during the fall semester. The presidents will reevaluate this decision by the end of September based on conference analysis to assess sports-specific activities and the experiences then with COVID-19 on the schools' campuses.
• The presidents have also determined football will not be played in the fall. However, the Conference will explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, including football, to the spring.
McDaniel College's decision-making continues to be informed by the recommendations of the College's Return to the Hill committee, as well as guidance from state and county health officials.
"As with all of our decisions since the onset of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of our campus community, including our student-athletes, remains paramount," President Casey said. "We want our students to have an opportunity to participate in intercollegiate athletics in a safe environment, and this decision recognizes that these plans may be revised as we receive further guidance from health officials."
Regardless of intercollegiate competition, McDaniel's academic schedule for the fall continues to include a daily Activity Period which can allow for practice and team activities that adhere to all state and local health and safety guidelines.
While final details have yet to be determined, it is expected that conference members will be permitted to have team meetings, individual and small-group strength-and-conditioning sessions, and modified non-contact practices adhering to all CDC and Maryland Health guidelines.
"We are also fully committed to assisting all of our student-athletes, especially those who do not have competition this fall, with their mental health and well-being by providing any and all available resources to them," Director of Athletics Paul Moyer added. "We will continually reiterate to our student-athletes the need for flexibility as the conference continues to review this policy and will be diligent in monitoring the fluid nature of the pandemic."
Student-athletes will return to campus with the rest of the student body in preparation for the first day of classes on Aug. 20. It is expected they will undergo a period of individual training followed by incremental increases in activity and contact with their teams.
In addition to following guidance from health authorities, McDaniel will use guidelines set forth by the NCAA and National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) to allow a safe return of its athletes. Full details on campus-wide decisions can be found on the College's Return To The Hill page.