ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine announced in a Friday press conference it has postponed, not canceled, the fall sports season. This decision impacts the school’s football, field hockey, soccer, and cross-country programs.
Athletic Director Ken Ralph and University President Joan Ferrini-Mundy made the announcement in a zoom call. Ralph mentioned it was a hard decision to postpone the season but also said it was the right one. The two repeated the fact that the school is still looking for ways their student-athletes can compete in the spring.
Ralph made it clear that no sports will be played in the fall even if an independent game was available. He said if rapid COVID-19 testing or a vaccine were available, spring football might be possible.
“If those things become available, I think it is a very good opportunity for us to allow our students to engage. I think primarily we’d be looking at a conference-only opportunity in the spring,” Ralph said.
All student-athletes on scholarship will still receive their scholarships despite not playing this fall.
The America East conference announced Friday is has postponed its fall sports season. The 10-team conference is made up of schools across the Northeast including the University of Maine. The Black Bear’s Women’s Soccer, Field Hockey, and Cross-Country team play in the conference.
The commissioner of the conference, Amy Huchthausen, released a statement on the postponement of the season, saying in part:
“For the last several months, we have been working extensively with our membership to prepare for the fall sports season, including developing health and safety protocols, revising schedules and creating contingency plans. We have remained optimistic that we could safely conduct a fall sports season, however, there are several external factors outside of our institutions’ control that will limit and disrupt our ability to deliver our student-athletes an experience they deserve,” Huchthausen said.
The UMaine football team is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). On Friday, CAA Football announced the suspension of conference competition in the fall of 2020 due to concerns associated with COVID-19.
The announcement also states the conference is exploring the possibilities of playing the spring football season in the spring of 2021. Individual schools are still allowed to manage practice activities for football student-athletes as long as NCAA, school, state, and national guidelines are followed.
“Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis," CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said.
There has been no decision made regarding the winter sports season. Ralph said the school will begin looking into that matter next week.