URI Fall Sports Season Postponed With Announcements By Atlantic 10 & CAA Friday
KINGSTON, R.I. – All fall varsity athletic events for the University of Rhode Island have been suspended due to continuing concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to announcements from both the Atlantic 10 Conference and CAA Football Friday afternoon.
Rhode Island is a full member of the Atlantic 10 for 17 of its 18 varsity sports. The lone exception is football, as the Rams are an associate member of CAA Football. Both leagues officially stated Friday that the intent was to conduct conference competition for fall sports during the spring of 2021, provided it is safe to do so as the COVD-19 situation evolves. Though competitions are cancelled, fall sport teams will be able to practice and workout in accordance with safety protocols.
While the focus will be shifting fall schedules to the spring, the Atlantic 10 retained the option to reassess in early September. Conference and institutional leadership have agreed to a “look-in window” mid-September, allowing for a potentially truncated competitive schedule amongst conference opponents if the COVID-19 risk has substantially been reduced. The reinstatement of conference competitions following the look-in window would require medical and institutional protocols that would assure the safety of student-athletes, staff and the campus community. If COVID-19 risk levels do not improve, the teams and student-athletes will continue training and practicing while attending classes and prepare for a spring 2021 competitive schedule.
The postponed Atlantic 10 sports in the fall season for Rhode Island include men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country and volleyball. The fall competitive schedules for men’s golf, women’s tennis, and women’s rowing will also be postponed, as will non-traditional competition seasons for baseball and softball.
CAA Football Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said the conference’s Board of Directors voted to suspend conference competition in the Fall of 2020. The conference expressed a strong commitment to exploring the possibility of conducting a football season during the Spring of 2021, and will continue to analyze this scenario as more information becomes available and conditions continue to evolve.“I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when
dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” D’Antonio said. “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for their campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.”
Because of the uniqueness of CAA Football’s composition (12 institutions that compete in other sports in four Division I Conferences), the geographical expansion of the Conference membership and the complexity of an ever-changing situation, the league’s Board of Directors also affirmed that the Conference’s policies would permit member institutions the ability to explore the option of pursuing playing an independent football schedule in the Fall of 2020. Rhode Island will not exercise this option.
Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn acknowledged the difficulty faced by both conferences in making Friday’s announcements.
“The decision to not compete this fall is painful, but it is the right decision,” Bjorn said. “Our primary responsibility is to act in the best interests of the health and well-being of all our student-athletes. We want to provide the best possible experience during their time here, and that must be done in a responsible manner.”
The Friday announcements do not impact winter sports. While the league will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, no changes to the structure of winter sports have been made at this time. For Rhode Island, this includes men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track & field and women’s swimming and diving.
Both the Atlantic 10 and CAA Football will continue to develop plans for the suspended fall seasons. Details for the 2021 fall/spring conference schedules will be announced at a later date.