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GNAC suspends fall sports; UAA volleyball and cross country on hold

UAA volleyball and cross country teams will not compete this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Friday announced all sports will be canceled until November 30. The conference though left open the possibility that fall sports could compete in the spring. Here’s the press release from UAA Sports Information on the GNAC situation:

 

PORTLAND, Ore. – Citing the health and safety of student-athletes as the overriding concern, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference CEO Board today voted unanimously to suspend all intercollegiate athletics competition through Nov. 30 due to COVID-19.

The CEO Board said it will continue to monitor developments related to the pandemic and make a decision by Oct. 15 regarding the status of competition after Nov. 30.

Today’s announcement, which affects all 17 sports sponsored by the GNAC, precludes contests of any kind against outside competition regardless of whether a sport is in the championship or non-championship segment of its playing calendar. Conference members will have institutional autonomy regarding organized practice activities, according to the CEO Board.

“This was not a decision taken lightly but one the Board believes is in the best interests of student-athletes and staff,” said Dave Haglund, GNAC commissioner. “There is no greater priority than the health and well-being of our student-athletes and this action is reflective of the GNAC’s commitment to this prevailing principle.  We understand that many student-athletes will be disappointed and saddened by this news, particularly our seniors, and we have profound empathy for everyone affected by this decision, including non-conference opponents. We can only ask for their thoughtful understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

Haglund said that conference governance groups have already engaged in active discussions for providing meaningful seasons of competition for the conference’s fall championship sports, including the feasibility of playing in the spring.

FAQ’s on the Suspension of GNAC Athletics Competition
In light of the GNAC CEO Board announcement that intercollegiate athletics competition will be suspended at GNAC institutions through November 30, this document has been compiled to help student-athletes, coaches and administrators answer questions that may arise as students make decisions about their enrollment and/or athletics participation options for the 2020-21 academic year. This document will be updated as additional questions or issues
arise and as additional guidance is received from NCAA staff. Additional questions and answers will be highlighted in future iterations of this document.

Note: This document is intended to answer questions pertaining to GNAC and NCAA policy. Institutional rules or policies
may be more strict than the rules and regulations referenced or described below.

Q. Will my athletic scholarship be honored?
A. Aid cannot be canceled for an athletic-related reason. Cancelation could take place for non-athletic reasons such as the closure of the campus. More specific questions should be directed to individual institutions.

Q. Will there be penalties for National Letter of Intent (NLI) release requests? If so, what will the penalties be?
A. If the NLI signee submits an NLI release request and your institution grants the complete release, there is no NLI penalty. This scenario would not fall under the null and void criteria for a “discontinued sport” (unless the sport is
being discontinued).

Q. I am considering transferring to another GNAC institution to play intercollegiate athletics. Would I be subject to the GNAC’s intra-conference transfer policy?
A. Yes, any relief from the policy can only be granted by sending a waiver request to the conference. Please see the GNAC Bylaws posted under the “Governance” tab on the conference website (gnacsports.com) and review Bylaw 7.1.2 for the language related to the intra-conference transfer rule.

Q. Will there be any change to the NCAA academic eligibility requirements even though my sport’s season has been suspended?
A. No. All student-athletes are expected to meet the NCAA academic eligibility requirements.

Q. Will I lose a year of eligibility if my sport isn’t allowed to compete in 2020-21?
A. No. If individuals do not compete they will not use a season of competition.

Q. If I run out of terms/quarter hours (10 terms/15 quarters) during the 2020-2021 year, will there be an automatic waiver applied?
A. Presently, no. The NCAA will handle waivers related to an extension of eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Q. Will my team be able to practice at all in 2020-21?
A. Decisions on practice will be made by each institution.

Q. If my team’s season this fall is suspended and we don’t play any games, is there any chance that my team will be allowed to compete during the spring?
A. Possibly. This option will be explored by the conference membership.

Q. When will decisions be made on the winter (basketball, indoor track) and spring sports (softball, baseball, golf, track, rowing) regarding their competitive seasons?
A. The GNAC CEO Board is continually assessing the impact of COVID-19 and is expected to make an announcement regarding winter sports this fall. A timeline for a decision on the spring sports is to be determined.

Q. May student-athletes who are not enrolled (or enrolled less than full-time) in a given term participate in practice or other countable athletic-related activities during that term?
A. No. NCAA rules require that student-athletes be enrolled full-time to participate in countable athletically related activity – both practice and competition – with very few legislated exceptions.

Q. Do NCAA rules regarding amateurism and extra benefits continue to apply to student-athletes while they are on leave from an institution?
A. Yes – student-athletes on leave from an institution who intend to return and represent that or any other NCAA member institution in intercollegiate athletics should continue to comply with all NCAA and rules while not enrolled at their institution.

Q. If a returning student-athlete elects to take the fall 2020 (or any subsequent) term off from their institution, would they be permitted to participate in outside athletics activities during the term?
A. Individual participation in outside competition may limit a student-athlete’s ability to take advantage of the missed term exception to NCAA academic eligibility standards. Student-athletes should consult their compliance
office before participating in any outside athletics activities.

Ian Marks

Assistant AD for Media Relations
University of Alaska Anchorage
Office: 907-786-4625
Cell: 906-281-1204


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