There will be no varsity intercollegiate athletics at the University of New Hampshire this fall.
In conjunction with its conference partners, the university’s athletic department announced on Friday that no Wildcat fall sports team will compete in the upcoming semester as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
UNH has seven fall sports teams: men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, football, field hockey and women’s volleyball. The football team plays in the Colonial Athletic Association and the other squads are members of the America East Conference.
“It is with a very heavy heart that we are announcing the postponement of all fall sport programs due to the COVID pandemic,” said Marty Scarano, UNH’s director of athletics. “For months, we have worked diligently alongside our campus and league partners to establish safe protocols and practices that would protect our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the greater community. As of the last few weeks it has become obvious that the trend line and scientific data indicates the virus is not under control and continues to present a significant risk.”
According to a statement from the athletic department, the decision to postpone fall sports “provides clarity to student-athletes who deserve a better experience than could be reasonably guaranteed in light of the nation’s current circumstances.”
Discussions are ongoing, Scarano said, for a phased approach for student-athletes to safely return to practice and training on campus in accordance with UNH protocol and guidelines set by New Hampshire and the Centers for Disease Control.
“This decision will now allow our student-athletes to assimilate with the rest of the UNH student body upon return and adhere to the extensive re-socialization protocols established by the university,” Scarano said. “Once classes commence and the established safety protocols are satisfied, the athletes will be allowed to practice and work out under the strict auspices of federal, state and university standards.”
Gov. Chris Sununu issued a statement on UNH’s decision and the impact it has on the school and athletes.
“I am sure this wasn’t an easy decision for the University and their conferences to make, and I feel for all of the NH student athletes who are missing this season after working so hard and sacrificing so much,” Sununu said. “But this will get better, and we are in it together as we combat this virus.”
The university also announced the cancellation of Homecoming Weekend (Oct. 2-3) and Family Weekend (Oct. 10-11).
Scarano said UNH and its league affiliates are studying the possibility of moving fall sports to a spring season in 2021.
A decision on winter sports, including hockey and basketball, will occur in early fall, he said.