Northeastern Suspends Varsity Fall Sports

By Milton Posner

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages nationwide, Northeastern University announced on Friday afternoon that it is suspending fall sports.

The decision includes soccer, volleyball, field hockey, and cross country, with an emphasis on trying to play those sports in the spring. A decision on basketball, ice hockey, swimming, and track and field — which are considered winter sports — will be made later. Spring sports (baseball and rowing), which usually play out-of-season games in the fall, will not do so this year.

The school cited the need to ensure the health and safety of athletes and the campus community at large. Northeastern is holding in-person classes this fall and has announced evolving procedures — including housing and class changes to encourage distancing — aimed at preventing the virus from spreading on campus.

Northeastern’s statement acknowledged similar decisions by fellow Colonial Athletic Association schools and by other conferences. The CAA, which comprises ten schools spanning eight states from Massachusetts to South Carolina, suspended its football season, but left decisions on other sports up to its member institutions, acknowledging the schools’ need to rely on different local and state guidance.

Six CAA schools — Northeastern, Hofstra, Delaware, William & Mary, Towson, and Drexel — suspended fall sports. UNCW and Charleston will compete, while Elon and James Madison are monitoring conditions and have yet to make final decisions.

The decisions come a day after the NCAA asserted that pandemic conditions must improve before fall sports happen. The NCAA also released guidelines, including testing strategies, daily self-health checks, the use of face coverings, and physical distancing during and outside of athletics. Decisions on competition vary by conference, though two nearby conferences, the Atlantic 10 and Patriot League, have suspended fall sports.

Northeastern will honor all athletic scholarships for the 2020–21 academic year, and teams will work out during the fall in accordance with Northeastern, NCAA, and public health guidelines.