McDaniel College won’t be playing football in 2020, and the Green Terror’s other fall sports are suspended following the Centennial Conference’s announcement Tuesday that relates to the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference’s Presidents Council is halting intercollegiate fall sports until further notice, according to a news release issued by the Centennial. The presidents are planning to reevaluate the decision in late September, according to the release, “based on work to be done by the Conference to assess sports-specific activities and the experiences on the school’s campuses.”
The Centennial also plans to explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, football included, to the spring of 2021, according to the release.
McDaniel football coach Demarcus White said his players were disappointed in hearing the ruling, but the Green Terror were preparing for something like this.
“As a program ... we were going about our business as usual. Guys were working extremely hard this summer,” White said. “And that was my message to them [Tuesday] ― nothing changes. No matter if they decide that we’re going to play in the spring, or if they decided we were going to play on Christmas. When they decide to spot the ball, we have to be ready to go.”
McDaniel went 3-7 last fall in White’s first season as coach. The Green Terror last won a Centennial Conference crown in 2002, when they shared the title with Johns Hopkins and Muhlenberg.
Hopkins reeled off 10 conference titles in a row from 2009-18, and the Mules won last season before making a run to the NCAA Division III tournament semifinals.
McDaniel will experience its first fall without football since 1945. But White said the thought of playing football in the spring is something he wants his players to rally around.
“If we can give them hope that we’ll have the opportunity of playing the game that we all love in the spring, no matter how many games we are able to play ... it will keep those guys being positive and grounded,” he said.
McDaniel said in its release the college will continue to make decisions related to the pandemic by being informed by the recommendations of the College’s Return to the Hill committee, as well as guidance from state and county health officials.
Regardless of intercollegiate competition, McDaniel’s academic schedule for the fall will include a daily Activity Period, according to the release, which can allow for practice and team activities that adhere to health and safety guidelines. It’s also expected that conference members will be permitted to have team meetings, individual and small-group strength-and-conditioning sessions, and modified non-contact practices adhering to all national and state health guidelines.
Athletes are set to return to campus with the rest of the student body in preparation for the first day of classes Aug. 20. It is expected they’ll undergo a period of individual training, followed by incremental increases in activity and contact with their teams, according to the news release.
The Centennial Conference’s Presidents Council is chaired by McDaniel president Roger Casey.
“As with all of our decisions since the onset of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of our campus community, including our student-athletes, remains paramount,” Casey said in the McDaniel news release. “We want our students to have an opportunity to participate in intercollegiate athletics in a safe environment, and this decision recognizes that these plans may be revised as we receive further guidance from health officials.”
Swarthmore College, a Centennial member, last week decided it was suspending fall athletics because of COVID-19. Other schools were expected to follow, but the conference came to an agreement a little more than one month before fall sports practices were set to begin.
“This monster of a virus is not going anywhere anytime soon,” White said. “The health and safety of all the staff members and the players, and ultimately their families ... the safety of us all is more important than the game.”