NSIC announces delay in start of fall sports season

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Board of Directors voted unanimously Monday to institute a delay to the start of NSIC fall athletic competition.

The health and safety of student-athletes, athletics personnel, and greater campus communities in the NSIC is paramount. Given the information from the medical and scientific community, and the number of uncertainties and limitations involving local and state regulations, the NSIC board felt it  had become evident that a delay to the original start dates to provide the membership the opportunity to be prepared for all student-athletes to return to campus and work through all of the requirements for re-socialization.

"This was a challenging decision for our membership to make," NSIC Commissioner Erin Lind said in a news release. "For the last several months, our membership has been working tirelessly to prepare for the fall sport season, including developing the resumption of athletic principles, revamping schedules and creating competition disruption plans. At this time, we remain optimistic that we can safely conduct a fall sports season and moving the start date of competition will give us the best opportunity to give our student-athletes the experience they deserve."

Making this decision now permits campuses to focus solely on reopening safely for their broader campus communities. The challenge of preparing for a fall sports season amidst the present uncertainties should not affect overall institutional reopening plans nor the health and safety of the wider campus community.

For the sports of football and men's and women's cross country, the first permissible practice will be Wednesday, Sept. 2 with the first date of competition scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26. For volleyball and soccer, the first permissible practice will be Tuesday, Sept. 8 with the first date of competition scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2.

With the delay of the fall sports season announced Monday by the NSIC, the WSC football schedule is reduced from 10-games to eight, losing a road contest at Bemidji State and a home game with a Minot State. The Wildcats will now open the 2020 season at Minnesota Duluth on Sept. 26.

The Wildcat volleyball team will now see an original 20-game schedule reduced to 15, losing road games at Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State and home matches against Sioux Falls, Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State. WSC will open the season on the road at the University of Mary on Oct. 2. 

The WSC soccer teams' original 15-game schedule has been cut to 11 games and will now start on Oct. 2 with a home match against Minnesota Crookston.  The Wildcats lost four matches against Minnesota State, Concordia-St. Paul, Northern State and MSU Moorhead.

The WSC Cross Country schedule will see at least two meets canceled – Sept. 5 at Dordt and Sept. 12 at Dakota State. An updated schedule for Wildcat cross country will be announced at a later date. An amended schedule for Wayne State College women's golf will be released at a later date.

Wayne State athletic director Mike Powicki said the decision will help the school and the conference better navigate the situation.

“I support the decision to move with a delayed start, this positions the NSIC to compete together as a league and provide conference and NCAA championship opportunities,” he said. “This delay also provides us additional time monitor the constantly changing landscape across the five states comprising our conference and across the country. I most certainly appreciate the patience and commitment of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, parents and stakeholders as we navigate this challenging time.”

The conference will continue to monitor the landscape and conditions surrounding the pandemic, locally, regionally and nationally, and make any decisions or announcements at a later date, as necessary.

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