Jackson Gerber, Sports Editor
Augsburg’s spring sports seasons, along with the men’s wrestling national championships as well as a track and field athletes national championship, have been cancelled due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Augsburg was a part of a chain of many dominoes in the sports world that fell after NBA player Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus on Wed. March 11th. The NBA acted quickly by postponing their season indefinitely after the conclusion of the remaining games that night. Many professional sports followed the NBA in either postponing or suspending their seasons indefinitely within days of the NBA’s announcement. The NCAA announced the next day that all remaining winter sports championships would be cancelled immediately, as well as all spring championships for 2020 being cancelled for later in the year.
The decision by the NCAA to cancel the winter championships immediately had a direct impact on Auggie athletes. Augsburg’s top ranked men’s wrestling team was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the DIII Wrestling National Championships, but were unable to set foot on the mat as their season, and chance to defend their national title, was cut short. Junior sprinter Jada Lewis was preparing to compete in North Carolina in the 60-meter dash at the DIII Track and Field Championships when the news broke that her season was finished.
On Thursday, March 12th, around the same time that the NCAA decided to cancel the winter and spring championships, Augsburg cancelled all spring break athletics trips. This included baseball’s trip to Arizona and softball’s trip to Florida, as well as a plethora of women’s lacrosse games that were scheduled over spring break. The cross country team’s trip to Kenya was cancelled as well.
Finally, on Friday, March 13th, the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) announced in a press release that the 2020 spring conference and postseason competitions would be cancelled for the remainder of the academic year. Augsburg followed the MIAC’s lead and cancelled all remaining athletic activities, which included all competitions and all practices, until further notice.
This was a crushing blow to all Auggie athletes affected by the quick turn of events, but especially for the seniors who had competed without knowing it would be the last time they would put on an Auggie uniform. A glimmer of hope came for those seniors as the NCAA DIII Administrative committee announced that the 2020 spring sports semester would not count towards the student-athletes eligibility. Each student-athlete is allowed 10 semesters to complete four seasons of competition in Division III. The MIAC approved a similar bylaw shortly after.
On the surface, this looks like a solid move by both the NCAA DIII Administrative committee as well as the MIAC. The student-athletes’ seasons were cut short by something well out of their control, and many feel that they should be allowed a chance to compete if they want to. However, many of the seniors already have jobs lined up for after graduation in May, and are not pursuing another degree or graduate degree to continue competing next spring. The financial implications of staying another year at a private institution will also be a prominent factor in their decision to stay an extra year.
Although these decisions to cancel sports seasons had a negative impact on many student-athletes, ultimately they were made with the health of the entire athletic community in mind as the entire world continues to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.