Saint Anselm’s Emma Bartle, left, and SNHU’s Cassidy Huckins battle during a 2018 field hockey game.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Northeast-10 Conference announced Thursday it will suspend league competition through Dec. 31, but left open the possibility fall sports can be played next spring.

Saint Anselm College, Southern New Hampshire University and Franklin Pierce are all members of the conference.

Saint Anselm and Franklin Pierce field varsity football teams. During the fall, all three schools offer men’s and women’s golf, cross country, tennis and soccer, and women’s volleyball and field hockey, with the exception of Saint Anselm, which does not offer men’s tennis or women’s golf.

SNHU announced on June 10 that it would not open campus to students in the fall and will offer online learning only.

“First and foremost, I would like to express how truly sorry and disappointed I am that our fall and winter athletes won’t start their seasons as we had all hoped for.” said Kim Mooney, FPU president and chair of the NE10 Council of Presidents. “Ultimately, the postponement was the only responsible decision our Council could make in order to protect the health and well-being of student-athletes and staff across the NE10.”

According to a release, the league and its members “are striving to ensure a meaningful regular season and conference championship experience for its fall sport student-athletes during the spring 2021 semester, as long as a return to competition can be safely executed.”

Plans for spring competition fall sports will be provided at a later date, according to the league.

The league is also working on a plan “to provide a regular-season schedule and/or conference championship experience for its winter sport student-athletes during the spring 2021 semester, with the intention of aligning with appropriate NCAA selection criteria and dates.”

“I understand this is disappointing news for our student-athletes to hear today, but I am confident they will all understand the reasoning behind the decision and appreciate the care and concern which went into making it,” said Rachel Burleson, director of athletics at Franklin Pierce. “Our entire staff has empathy for our student-athletes and we understand how difficult this is for them to hear, but we are certain we will get through this and come out a stronger Raven family”

SNHU’s department of athletics issued the following statement:

“While we share in the disappointment of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, we wholeheartedly support the decision made by the NE10 Council of Presidents on Thursday to suspend all NE10-sponsored competition and championships through December 31 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Southern New Hampshire University’s top priority will always be the health and safety of the Penmen community, and we all look forward to the day we can return to the competition we all love so much as soon as it is safe to do so.”