Red Raider Football

Red Raider football, and all 2020-21 SU athletic events, will be moved to the spring semester following a directive from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference voted on Tuesday, July 14, to suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Conference has already undertaken a full review of its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester and fully intends to do so if a return to competition can be safely executed. 

“The entire conference has worked hard these last few months to prepare for the return of sports to our campuses beginning this fall,” explains PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray. “However, it has become apparent that the safe conduct of sports under the guidelines of social distancing is untenable for our members. We cannot place our student-athletes at greater risk than the general student body. Despite our planning and collective efforts, it has become clear that we are not able to do so.”

“We are committed to giving our student-athletes the chance to compete during this academic year,” adds Geraldine Jones, president of California University of Pennsylvania and newly elected chair of the PSAC Board of Directors. “Many institutions and conferences are facing the same circumstances as we are, and if it is safe to return to competition, we will work with them and the NCAA to provide our teams with a championship experience during the spring semester. We know this is a huge disappointment for our student-athletes who work so very hard in their sport. This decision was not taken lightly and we feel saddened by having to do so.” 

The PSAC and its members will develop guidelines for all teams to continue individual skill instruction as well as strength and conditioning activities under social distancing protocols by the end of the summer. The determination as to when winter and spring sports may begin workouts and practices will be considered at a later date. 

 “The circumstances we find ourselves in are unprecedented and thus we are taking unprecedented measures,” adds Murray. “The contraction of COVID-19 and its viral spread are not the types of risks those involved with sports activities face under normal  circumstances. Therefore, we cannot expose our student-athletes, coaches and university personnel to those risks. It is a painful step we are taking, but we feel it is the right one.”  

This decision impacts both fall and winter sports. The hope is that there can be some semblance of practice for fall and winter sports during the fall semester. After Jan. 1, through May and the end of the spring semester, is when they hope games can resume. The PSAC will evaluate the necessary schedule changes and will communicate its plans for moving all competitions to the spring semester at a later date.

Red Raider football, SU field hockey and SU men’s and women’s basketball are among the programs impacted by the PSAC’s decision. 

According to the SU Athletic Department, the rationale for the arrangement is to promote the well-being of student-athletes and department personnel with the plan for the full resumption of intercollegiate athletic activity.

“This decision was not made lightly,” noted Jeff Michaels, SU athletics director. “It is our intent to have all sports competing during the spring semester. The next six weeks will be used to determine what types of countable athletically-related activities will be permitted during the fall semester and planning for the return to competition in the spring.”

“Our athletic programs are the pulse of the University, and a profound source of pride,” said Dr. Laurie A. Carter, president of Shippensburg University, adding, “I am heartbroken. I grieve the loss of our fall sports programs, but we are Raider-strong. The sacrifices we make now help protect our community.”

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