Photo by Ariel Chen/Staff

The Big West Board of Directors announced on July 20 that the Big West Conference (BWC) fall sports competition would not be held this calendar year due to challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to campus communities. 

As a result of the decision, the following conference-sponsored sports will not compete this fall: men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

In addition, non-fall season sports such as men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s volleyball, women’s water polo, and baseball will not have any scheduled competitions throughout the rest of the year. 

Fall sports that are unaffiliated with the conference such as UCI Men’s Water Polo, who are part of the Golden Coast Conference (GCC), were not included in the BWC statement. However, on July 31, the GCC postponed its season until at least January 2021. 

Men’s and women’s basketball are not currently impacted by the BWC decision since they are considered winter sports and are scheduled to begin their competition on Nov. 10.

Student-athletes will be able to return to campus for voluntary athletic related activities at the discretion of each institution. For example, if a UCI student-athlete were to return to campus, they must follow the strict compliance rules in accordance with the NCAA regulations, UCI policies and public health guidelines. 

As of July 30, UCI Athletics has submitted its Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) Return to Campus Phase I plan to campus authorities and the Orange County Public Health. In this phase, they plan to allow individual, physically distanced voluntary strength and conditioning.

Although still in its development stage, Phase II plans of ICA are to allow in-person team practice and training along with instruction of small groups for physically distanced sports. The BWC does not anticipate this plan to be approved until late September, just before the start of the school year. 

The BWC is not the only conference that has altered their fall sports schedule. The ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC are planning to use a “conference-only” format for fall competition. However, the Ivy League has decided to cancel fall sports altogether. 

UCI will continue to honor athletic scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year. Since the BWC anticipates moving postponed fall sports into the traditional spring season window pending a future decision, they do not expect the NCAA to grant student-athletes an additional year of eligibility. 

“Realizing that intercollegiate athletics’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains very fluid, the Board noted a decision on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined by the Board of Directors at a later date and be based on conditions and circumstances that are in the best interests of the student-athletes,” the Big West Board of Directors said in their update on fall sports competition.

Since the health and safety of its student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus communities is highly prioritized, the BWC will continue to monitor the situation based on medical and scientific data developments and will determine its next steps as needed.

Avi Gokool is a 2020-2021 Sports Co-Editor. He can be reached at sports@newuniversity.org.

Christopher Piazza is a 2020-2021 Sports Co-Editor. He can be reached at sports@newuniversity.org.